At the Wednesday, January 10 Lunch ‘n Learn, John Hernandez and Wayne Bivens-Tatum presented All Things Google. Hernandez focused upon searching and new Google tools. Bivens-Tatum focused upon use of Google for managing content.
For those interested in basic information, Hernandez recommended the GoogleGuide.
For trends in web searching, he recommended the Google Zeitgeist, a sanitized summary of the most popular Google searches. For a more structured approach to searching, you can use Google’s directory. Like other search sites, the directory provides a topical orientation for those who prefer to drill down to information rather to search only through the main Google text-search box.
For those interested in searching for language specific resources, Google provides a useful multilingual search tool with a link (“Language Tool”) right off the main page. Here, you can select web pages written in nearly 40 languages or limit searches to web pages within the local domains of dozens of countries.
Hernandez considers the Google text translation feature a bit less efficient than other text translation services on the web, notably AltaVista’s Babelfish, but it does provide the useful ability to translate the contents of a specific url.
Hernandez showed how to track information through Google alerts. By entering in a search term and providing your e-mail address, you will receive (as often as you specify) a summary of relevant sources.
For news, Hernandez recommended Google News, a completely automated service that coordinates news stories from more than 4,500 internet news sources around the world. The page is constantly refreshed and can be personalized according to your interests. The large number of news sources offers a more diverse perspective than most domestic news services.
Hernandez also demonstrated Google maps. By entering an address, you can view a street map, a satellite image, or a hybrid of the two. Services include driving directions and lists of nearby businesses.
Google Earth combines the power of Google’s search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain, and 3D buildings. Hernandez demonstrated eye catching animation, a zoom from orbit down to a particular location. Google Mars and Google Moon provide similar capabilities for two extraterrestrial bodies.
Google Image Search provides easy access to a range of still images with the same text-oriented interface. The advanced image search permits you to limit searches to image size, file types, and full color, or black and white. Their safe search feature helps to will filter out questionable content.
Google also offers a search engine devoted to US government information. Searches concentrate on pages within .gov and .mil domains, although there is also some coverage of .edu, .org, and .com sites (like the postal service) that contain relevant materials.
G-scholar supports searches of scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Book Search offers search capabilities within the digitized holdings of publishers and large academic libraries.
As Bivens-Tatum added, Google is about more than searching. For example, Google helps you to create your own content and to personalize and organize your information with a Google-based portal. You can start a Google BLOG, or use the Google Reader to subscribe to web sites in order to follow emerging content.
Google’s G-Mail gives you a free e-mail account with more than 2,500 MG of storage.
Google bookmarks helps you to preserve and organize and share your favorite bookmarks. The Google toolbar provides powerful search and other capabilities from within your browser. Google talk, their instant messaging service supports Voice over IP.
In the category of desktop productivity tools, Google provides a web-based calendar that may ease contact with off-campus colleagues. Their web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and web authoring tool are also free. The features are less rich than common desktop tools, but documents placed there are easy to share.