Science Units for Grades 9-12

By Deborah Aufdenspring; Ian C. Binns et al. | Go to book overview

chapter 4
Search Engines Explained
MIKE MENCHACAMethods for indexing and retrieving information have existed since the moment humankind started keeping records. When Ptolemy I established the great Library of Alexandria in 290 B.C., he also created a way to store and retrieve its important documents. In the latter half of the 19th century, Melvil Dewey invented a classification system with a standard index to search and retrieve books and documents.The Internet and the World Wide Web contain a wealth of documents, journals, articles, books, and more. However, all this information is useless unless there is a way to locate the materials you need. As a result of the popularity of the World Wide Web as a source for information, many organizations and companies have created incredibly fast and complex databases to help users search and locate specific items in its wealth of information. These companies and organizations have taken several different approaches to collecting, indexing, and then searching through the information.This chapter should help you understand how search engines collect information, how to search through the information that is collected, and finally, how to find specialized collections and engines appropriate for high school students.
How Search
Engines Collect
Information
Search engines use several methods for collecting and indexing information from the World Wide Web. Two methods are the most common:
using spiders and bots, which rely heavily on technology
compiling and categorizing information, which requires significant human resources

SPIDERS AND BOTS

A popular method for collecting information from the Web uses spiders, or Web crawlers, which navigate through the Web on their own, following links and fetching information, which is added to a huge, powerful existing database (example, AltaVista). These spiders are automated robots—hence, the term [bots]—that require intense and powerful computer processors and massive amounts of storage space.

The benefit of using spiders and bots to gather information is that the information can be gathered and made available quickly and easily. The spiders and bots allow for a very large amount of information to be collected and indexed.

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