Metasearch engines like Dogpile search many individual search engines. My favorite metasearch engine is Ixquick, which also offers an option of
searching for telephone numbers. Here is that link:
For government documents, here is a link to a page at TheResourceShelf.com which is a weekly search engine review updated by librarians. You can sign
up there to get their free weekly newsletter. Here is their link on government document resources:
My favorite government site is the University of Michigan government documents website -- it is comprehensive and frequently updated. That web
address is listed halfway down the above page.
Yesterday, a company called Powerset announced new search tools for Wikipedia users; conversational phrases are used instead of keywords to help users
choose the results that are most similar to the actual questions they have. Here is their website:
And here is the Reuters news article about the Powerset product:
I considered posting my comments about the Powerset search tool in the ATS disinformation section, because I don't think this strategy is the way to
go in the long run; it's certainly not suited to searches of the internet, now or later.
When I was in graduate school, I took a database course from Peter Pin-Shan Chen, who introduced the Entity-Relationship model of database design:
According to Dr. Chen, there are a number of significant obstacles posed by the use of natural language in doing searches (in those days, searches of
databases alone, but nowadays this includes the internet as well). The Powerset use of "conversational phrasing" runs up against these
1. Natural language (the grammatical construction of text sentences and phrases) is inherently ambiguous.
2. Natural language is context-dependent, so that meaning varies depending on the context of a particular sentence or paragraph.
Bottom line? Don't expect effective searches of text phrases or sentences in the lifetime of anyone now living. A more specific forecast was given
at a library conference a few years ago, where the recently retired librarian from the Hewlett Packard library system described the forecast given to
her by a senior researcher at Google -- "we expect that Google search results will be as accurate as librarian searches in about 300 years". So
that's job security for librarians.
[edit on 5/12/2008 by Uphill]