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Keywords: Web search, Google, online research
Title: Web Search Garage
Author: Tara Calishain
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Verdict: Interesting and useful.
Tara Calishain, co-author of O'Reilly's 'Google Hacks', returns to the fray with 'Web Search Garage'. The slightly odd title is because the book is part of the (newish) Garage series from Prentice Hall. We have to say that the TechBookReport garage is full of old junk, but apparently enough people do their 'best work in the garage' that it's enough of a concept to launch a range of books with a down and dirty, hand-on approach.
Quibbles about the title aside, the book certainly has a very practical bent. Aimed at the computer user who wants to seriously improve their web searching abilities, the book is a thorough and well-researched look at how to maximise search efficiency. Note that this is not aimed at the expert search engine jockey or the web master wanting to improve search and navigation on her/his own site. Neither is this a book on search engine optimisation strategies; this is not about improving your Google ranking.
While Google gets a lot of attention the author takes a broader view, and there is good coverage of many other search engines and research resources, from the Open Directory Project to Yahoo to dictionaries, encyclopedias and online databases. The advice that is proffered ranges from picking effective search strategies to learning to use specialised syntax and advanced search features. While the best strategies are ones that the reader is likely to have used unconsciously, Calishain makes things explicit and shows how to effectively expand or contract searches to gain maximum benefit.
Once the best tools and strategies have been explored the book moves on to look at a number of more specialised topics, including multi-media searches, job hunting, news filtering, genealogy and so on. For these topics the advice ranges from pointers to the best research resources to pointing out why some strategies are more useful than others.
Overall there's a lot of good material here. It's likely that the amount to be gained from the book will be in inverse proportion to the amount of experience and knowledge the reader already has. But it's also true that there are going to be few readers who come away without having picked up something useful no matter how expert they are.