Why not just use Google?

When you’ve searched Google for a book, has Google ever suggested, “Go to your local library”?


The cover of the book "Invisible Women"

Imagining this is the book you are looking for. You typed the name in and the result is like this:

A screenshot of the results of searching the book, Invisible Women, on Google

But none of these results will tell you that your Library already has it

Part of that is on us, librarians: we haven’t opened our data and we are working on that. But it’s also because we (libraries) don’t pay Google to promote us. No one really knows Google’s algorithm, so it is hard to guess what sources it isn’t showing you 

I hope you’ve heard about The Filter Bubble. If not, check out Eli Pariser’s TEDtalk (or print book). This Ted Talk introduces the problem of “filter bubbles”: as web companies strive to individualise their services according to our personal tastes, we will lose exposure to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview.♦

A image of the Ted Talk "Beware online 'filter bubbles'" A white man in a blue shirt stands with arms half raised before a screen reading, "Gooooooooogle" and search profiles on Egypt.In this video, Eli Pariser argues that personalization will prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

Then, compare your screen of results with classmates’ in another city or country. There are many websites and data Google does not scrape or rank, often called the Deep or Invisible Web, not because it’s a secret or dangerous, but simply because it is not commercial or does not help Google make money.  

Watch for the following post about a better tool to use for research than Google.



♦ For more information, you can check this Wall Street Journal article by Grind, Kirsten, et al: “How Google Interferes with its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results; the Internet Giant Uses Blacklists, Algorithm Tweaks and an Army of Contractors to Shape what You See”.