To Google or not to Google? Google took over the market for search engines, and instead of saying “just look it up online!” we say “just Google it!” But how different are results from Google and say a library catalog? To investigate this very simply, I did two different searches.
I did a Google search of the word “ballet” and my top five results were: a link to the Wikipedia page about Ballet, three local dance school’s websites and one Facebook page of a local dance school. This immediately tells me that Google uses an algorithm in conjunction with location to give results. Besides the first result that gives me a Wikipedia page and definition of the word, the rest are location specific.
When I did the same search on our school’s library catalog, I got many books, journal articles, and poems with the title “Ballet.” None of the results suggested that the library catalog was using information it had on me besides the search I gave as input.
Both Google and the library search did give me back a form of my search topic in an Encyclopedia, even though one was through Wikipedia and the other was through Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Google’s algorithm seems to use the information it knows about you and your search, together to give a response that is relevant. The library catalog uses the search, seemingly without other information about you (e.g. location, sites normally visited, age, etc.) and gives back whatever is directly relevant to the search phrase or word.