An Extreme Searcher’s Guide to the Best of the Web

One of the world’s foremost super searchers has distilled his extensive and wide-ranging knowledge into an essential guide to the web’s highest quality resources.

The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook, by Randolph Hock, is both a compendium of high quality web sites, and a treasure trove of tips and tricks for finding information online. Subtitled “A Guide for the Serious Searcher,” the book is an excellent follow-on to Ran’s previous book, The Extreme Searcher’s Guide to Web Search Engines.

Whereas the fist book was a nuts and bolts look under the hood of the major web search services, The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook is much wider ranging, looking not just at web directories, search engines and portals, but also at specialized search sites.

For example, chapters are dedicated to groups and mailing lists, an internet “reference shelf,” sights and sounds, news, and shopping.

Importantly, the book is also full of tips on how best to find and use specialized resources. With all of the Google mania we’re experiencing these days, it’s easy to forget that many of these specialized resources often offer much better quality search results than you can get with a general purpose search engine. Why? Often it’s because they are selective in the resources they offer — the opposite approach to Google’s motto of finding and indexing all of the world’s information.

Specialized sites also have search tools that are “tuned” to finding information specific to a particular subject or category. Many offer advanced capabilities to allow you to be even more precise in your hunt for information.

The book shows you how these search tools work, often providing useful information that’s not always obvious, such as whether a search tool is automatically using Boolean logic, or how to turn on or off optional features.

Despite being aimed at “serious searchers,” this is an excellent book for people of any skill level. All of the web site descriptions are clear and straightforward. And for newcomers, the first and last chapters are particularly useful, detailing basics for becoming a serious searcher and how to go about publishing information online yourself.

One of the things that makes Ran both an excellent writer and speaker is his unconventional approach to information discovery. One of my favorites: “click everywhere.” Don’t just click obvious links or buttons — experiment by clicking anything you see on the page. You never know what you might find — and sometimes what you find can be quite valuable.

As a bonus, Ran maintains the Extreme Searcher’s web site, with links to all of the sites mentioned in the Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook. There’s also a useful search engine comparison chart and links to Ran’s monthly columns from the CyberSkeptic Guide to Internet Research.

Although The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook is not part of CyberAge books Super Searcher series, Ran Hock is clearly a super searcher himself. As Gary Price notes in his foreword to the book, “I don’t doubt that in a very short period of time your copy will be dog-eared, full of notes, draped with Post-Its, and nothing short of worn out.” In the two weeks I’ve had my copy, it’s already half-way there.

The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook
by Randolph Hock
CyberAge Books – $24.95
ISBN 0-910965-68-4

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