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Quick Search the Internet

Richard A. "Red" Lawhern, Ph.D.

Last Updated: December 2001

Welcome to "Quick Search on the Internet."  This article was first assembled in 1996 by courtesy of TASC, a major US engineering services firm and my employer at that time  (I am no longer with the company).  I maintain this article periodically as a public service to the University of California, Santa Barbara. You are welcome to copy the HTML source, but please include this attribution. 

I have worked as a systems engineer and technical writer in several technologies, for almost 35 years.   Starting in the early 1990s, I developed and taught courses to help bring corporate staff into the new information age that the Internet implied.  Of necessity,  I learned a fair amount about finding information in this medium.   This Web article is intended to share some of that learning with you, the reader.

A lot of people helped me along the way, and I believe in "giving something back". That's the title of my personal home page. If you're having trouble locating what you need on the Net, or you just want to talk with somebody who is reasonably knowledgeable about "this Internet stuff, " please visit me at Giving Something Back. You may also send me email at and I'll try to point you in a useful direction.

The Main Idea

The Voice of the Shuttle covers a lot of territory. There are many useful resources in the page from which you may have clicked to get here. But like any Net effort, the Shuttle cannot be kept absolutely current to the world in real time. Links go stale. New links emerge. Web Wizards keep adding more information at more sites. The Wizards at UCSB have only so much time to maintain general resources like the Internet page.

Thus it's not surprising that Internet users sometimes have trouble locating information efficiently. This Quick Search page is intended to help newcomers overcome that disability by collecting and explaining high value resource sites where newcomers can become productive quickly. Many of the links are resources that information miners and market analysts use to earn their living. Each site is supported by some form of local or Network search capability. 

The resources fall into four basic categories:

Internet Introductions -- Places to Learn about the Net

The following sites offer good "introductory" materials and links to Internet guides (sites that attempt to organize the information on the Net into broad hierarchies).  I won't claim that these are the "best of the best" (a judgment that changes all the time), but each has a good reputation for value added. Some sites provide very large subject hierarchies or indices, that you may browse if you have enough time on your hands. Others are search-oriented.

The main idea here, however, is essential if you are ever going to become really productive in using this medium beyond a very basic level: you need more than a search engine to find the good stuff. You should eventually start to build relationships or email correspondence with people who are writing the good stuff.  Experts can always tell you more than the individual documents you locate.  In time, you may become one of these people.

So let's start with some links  where you might learn more about how information is organized on the net and where you might find the people who write it:

WWW Review Sites -- places which evaluate the "best" places in the Net.

A number of sites on the Internet are well known for digesting, reviewing, and providing links to "cool places" and authoritative, well designed sites. Here are some helpful places to learn.  Some are very large, and some are smaller.

WWW Search Sites -- Places to Find Documents from All Over

To find the latest information -- or to discover what information is pertinent to you personally, "Inter-nauts" need knowledge servants capable of slicing through and sniffing terabytes of data on the Net. This section provides gateways to several sites where such knowledge servants are being born and raised. Enjoy (in more or less alphabetical order).

Some of the engines below provide search not only of the World Wide Web, but also of specialized materials assembled by the site owners. Although none of the engines below charges a fee for basic service, there are a few others not listed, that do. Other engines (called "meta search engines") submit your inquiries to multiple Internet search sites, and collate the results for presentation in a combined output form. 

First, a  "Meta Page of pages" -- a site from which you can access a large number of search engines, including the individual engines listed below. 

Next, some search engine sites that I've found useful over the years.

Evaluating Search Engines

With so many search engines competing for acceptance (and commercial market) as "the best on the Web", it is understandable that site would emerge that attempt to independently compare and evaluate the performance of the competitors. Also understandably, the responses of service owners to these reviews have ranged from enthusiastic to pointedly critical (depending on the relative ranking of their site). Without claiming any particular "rigor" in my own evaluations of various search resources, I suggest you review the following documents:

So let's say you've done an Internet search. AltaVista came up with 4,531 hits, and Yahoo found seventeen companies doing business in the areas of your interest. At least a few gems in this pile seem relevant to your project...

Simply put, you face the same problem that researchers have long confronted in traditional media: determining the validity or truth of the (ever more voluminous and -- these days -- no longer publisher-moderated) "information" you have recovered. Your process is much the same as in traditional research:

Internet sources can help with parts of your data validation process, but not all. What you need most is often going to be a good library. The following links will help you find one in your neighborhood or across the world, and to determine if it has an information source you need that isn't directly available on the Net.

This concludes your introduction to efficient searching on the Internet. If you need further help, email me at and we'll see what we can do. ENJOY.

A Word About TASC on the Internet

When I first developed this page, I worked for TASC Inc.  They are an engineering consulting firm with broad capabilities in information systems technology, research, integration, and architecture assessment for commercial and government customers. Though I am no longer affiliated, I include this reference as a professional courtesy to my former colleagues: To learn more about TASC, point your browser to:

Welcome to the Neighborhood! - the TASC home page.