There’s more to life than Google

Betcha didn’t know search engines started out as a Canadian thing.
The world’s first attempt at organizing information on the Internet came from McGill University in Montreal. In 1990, three students developed an archive of stored files called Archie.
It was a manually-indexed archive; they added all the information to it themselves. In 1993, University of Nevada students created a similar index called, of course, Veronica.
After several attempts by others to create the first Web directories, two true “search engines” were launched in 1993 and 1994 that you may have heard of before—Excite and WebCrawler.
Suddenly, you could search entire Web sites for matching words or phrases.
And then the first dot-com darling arrived on the scene—the Yahoo! directory.
Yahoo! grew out of two Stanford University students’ Web pages with their favourite links. Started in April, 1994 as a way to keep track of their personal interests, Yahoo! soon became too popular for the university server and became a company on its own—which now handles more than 25 percent of all the searches done online.
Yahoo! is second only to the über-search engine, Google, for number of searches performed every day.
It’s important to note the difference between a search engine and a directory: don’t let them fool you. Search engines (Google, MSN, Ask Jeeves, Altavista) search a copy of the text on Web sites while directories (Yahoo!, About.com, Looksmart) search an index hand-picked by actual human beings.
Search engines and directories have now evolved far past their humble beginnings, and have diversified in scope and size to an amazing degree. And while “Googling” is the current favourite way to search online, there are a wealth of other subject-specific tools available for many different purposes.
Many of the specialty search engines (or “vortals,” meaning vertical portals) can assist you in searching for specific types of listings on a certain subject matter.
One of the most popular uses of the Web by individuals is for genealogy research. There are several sites that can assist you in tracking down your family roots. Origin Search, for instance, is a subscription service that allows you to access more than 400 million names.
Ancestry.com is another site that offers access to a huge database of genealogical information.
Looking for travel destination information? Try tripadvisor.com—a search engine full of reviews of vacation destinations. For the historically-minded, Museumstuff.com offers guides to museum Web sites and museum-related info around the world.
Or, for the nostalgic surfer, find your old high school or college friends at Classmates.com—a huge database of school alumni from all over Canada and the United States.
For the less-serious-minded, HumorHunt.com searches the web for tame—as well as tasteless—humour, jokes, pictures, and video content. I particularly enjoyed finding the “Arm of Elvis” site in their database.
It proves beyond a doubt that some people have far too much time on their hands.
Article links:
•http://www.excite.com/
•http://www.webcrawler.com/
•http://www.yahoo.com/
•http://museumstuff.com/
•http://google.com/
•http://www.originsearch.com/
•http://www.ancestry.com/
•http://www.classmates.com/
•http://www.tripadvisor.com/
•http://www.armofelvis.co.uk/

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