Search - It's Not All Google

or is it?

Jessamyn West


The Contenders

standard bearers, new kids, vendors, 2.0-ers.... what do they want?

1. Frequent searchers use three or more search engines 2. 50% of searches end in failure 3. Total round trip time for an average search is 15 minutes * Type a keyword into a search box and hit enter * Wait a bit, then * get a list of 20 or so text results split into non-paid and sponsored links * Proceed to decipher each link and excerpt (does this site have what I’m looking for? Is it spam?) * Click on a link and go to the site. If you’re lucky, that’s it. * But most of us aren’t lucky, so you go back to your results page and begin the process again. * And repeat as often as needed for as long as your patience can muster. (Most searchers don’t get off the first page of results, even though we’re comforted that there are millions of results for some of our queries…) * If this doesn’t yield the result you’re looking for, you probably go back to the original query and try a new modification. * And repeat the process again as needed.


what are they up to, besides not being evil?

OCLC FirstSearch

a different target audience.

  • FirstSearch is for sale by a company that's no stranger to trademark disputes.
  • OCLC is a privately held non-profit company, who has acquired many other companies over the last decade or two, most recently RLG and DiMeMa.
  • OCLC/FirstSearch would like more marketshare. Their products become more useful the more people use them and subscribe to their services.
You can take classes in using FirstSearch.


simple like Google used to be.
  • lets you speak English, and they used to have a butler.
  • The company that owns Ask also owns Bloglines, Evite and some other odd web properties.
  • They also have Gary Price.
  • "Behind the scenes, the company at one point had about 100 editors who monitored search logs. They then went out onto the web and located what seemed to be the best sites to match the most popular queries."

What do they have?

Have a particular feature you're looking for? (somewhat dated)

The Sleepers

Clear as mud? Check out this chart.

Web 2.0-ish sites?

[what's ajax?]

Google - Hacks and Anti-Hacks

because Google has an open API, some of the best parts of Google aren't even at

Google - Features and Non Features

FirstSearch Power search

remember, you have OPTIONS

FirstSearch - Features and Non-Features


[advanced google is more boxes to fill in, advanced FS is different] is similar to Google with more date ranges

What's Happening in the Nosebleed Seats?

LibX & other toolbars.

What's Coming Up Next?


«  credits »

Jessamyn West is the editor of the weblog and the co-editor of Revolting Librarians Redux. She moderates the popular community weblog MetaFilter She works as a community technology mentor with people and libraries in Central Vermont. IM her at iamthebestartist.

This presentation was created in HTML using CSS. There was no PowerPoint involved in this presentation except as a nagging bad example. The layout and stylesheet are available to borrow via a share and share alike creative commons license. See source code for details. I took this picture for the background image.

slides version | printable version