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Effective Internet Search: About the Book

Kristina Edson, The Montreal Gazette, April 22, 2004

Anyone who’s ever conducted an Internet search knows that gathering cyber information can be like spinning a roulette wheel at the Casino de Montréal; success often depends on the fickle whim of lady luck.

Factors such as how many key words are employed in the search, which search engines are used and even how much time is spent perusing results, can greatly alter the final outcome of an Internet query.

And according to John Abbott College instructors Edward Baylin and Judy Gill, there has not been a comprehensive Internet search guide until now.

Gill and Baylin have teamed up to write Effective Internet Search: Skills & Strategies for Improved Search Engine Results, an e-book also available in print format. The guide is the result of years of hard work for Baylin, a computer analyst and university level instructor currently teaching at John Abbott College.

With more than 32 years of computer experience in and out of the classroom, Baylin often witnessed first hand the frustration students encounter when searching the Internet.

“I realized there wasn’t anything well written in the area,” Baylin said, adding that books which touched on the subject were not written “for the searcher.”

“They are done in a non generic way, not planned or organized,” he noted.

Rectifying the situation was an obvious solution for the self-described “conceptual person.”

Baylin had a rough copy of the book in the works when he ran into Gill, an accomplished writer, editor and media specialist, at a computer seminar more than a year ago. Both recognized a good fit and decided to collaborate on the project.

Darlene Canning, a McGill University computer services librarian also contributes a chapter in the book.

Gill admits she was intrigued by both the medium of an e-book as well as the topic itself when she came on board to turn Baylin’s tech talk into easily understood techniques for experienced and novice searchers.

“With the web, you need to cut to the chase very quickly,” said Gill of writing and editing the how-to guide. People say, “Okay, give me the quick and dirty, tell me what I need to know.”

With that format in mind, Gill took the vital skills, know-how and techniques imparted by Baylin, interspersing them with visuals cues such as charts, graphs, titles and hyperlinks.

The collaborative result is a book that guides users of all skill levels through often murky cyber waters.

According to their research, more than 50 per cent of search questions go unanswered. A lack of specific search savvy means many of us barley skim the surface of the bottomless pit of cyber information.

“People are doing trial and error and bumbling around,” said Gill.

“It’s very costly to have people spending hours (on a search,) if they were a little more skilled they would find it in minutes,” she added.

Common Internet search mistakes include using the same search engine time and again, using just one or two key words and linking only to the top ten web sites, which can have garnered their spot for a fee, said Gill.

“Every search engine has a bias and yet people are making financial decisions, health decisions on the basis of information that is highly ranked, but can be wrong.”

According to Baylin, the tips and tools in the book allow users to conduct a more structured search.

The e-book format is downloaded to the users computer and includes “invaluable” hyperlinks, search tool guides, as well as a handy search engine control center linked to numerous search engines.

A print version of the book is also available, though Gill and Baylin urge users to take advantage of the web format in order to access all the hyperlinks.

For more information on Effective Internet Search, go to www.searchhelpcenter.com.

© Kristina Edson, 2004

Effective Internet Search: E-Searching Made Easy!    © Baylin Systems, Inc., 2006