By: Mary Ellen Bates of Bates Information Services
I'm getting ready for all my spring speaking engagements, including the AIIP conference, Computers in Libraries, Web Search University, and the SLA Annual Conference. My favorite sessions are the ones where I show some of the lesser-known features of Google, Yahoo and Bing. Some of the Google tools are particularly useful for web researchers; here are the ones that I'm playing with now.
On the search results page, select the "+ Show options" link at the top. This expands to show you a wide range of additional filtering tools. Although the options have been changing fairly frequently, one that is worth looking at lets you see only those sites you've recently visited, or just the sites you haven't clicked through yet. ("Visited pages" and "Not yet visited") If you have been trying a number of search strategies and feel like you are running in circles, clicking the "Not yet visited" option may help you find what you are looking for.
With Google Transliterate, you type a Roman character on your keyboard and Google transliterates it to the equivalent character in 19 languages. While this doesn't offer the translation feature of Google Translated Search, it lets you run a quick search to see the number of mentions of a name or brand in a language you cannot easily type on your keyboard.
Google Public Data Explorer is an example of Google taking public data and making it more intelligible. Right now, the data sets include the OECD Factbook, World Bank statistics, US Census data, and Eurostat tables, among others. You specify a data range, and Google will generate a line chart, bar chart, map or bubble chart. Keeping in mind that much of our value is in making sense out of information, this Google tool may be a helpful way of visualizing information for your clients.