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The latest useful news on Google and Bing (Body Browser, Social Search, Google Refine)

December 20, 2010

In the last two weeks (sorry – catching up), there have been more than a few items relevant to search engines which will be of interest to us as information professionals:

  1. Google Refine. If you haven’t heard of Google Refine yet, you’ll want to take a listen.  As information pros, we often deal with text data.  And in many cases, our text data winds up in an excel spreadsheet for analysis.  But we know that often the data isn’t clean and has typos.  Google Refine is a free tool that is on your desktop that you can use to clean up Excel spreadsheets and make them usable.  (Think of it as Excel AutoFilter on steroids.)  And if you have numeric data, it can parse that as well.  A video demo of how Google Refine can help you is at
  2. Google Body Browser.  In the last few days Google launched Google’s Body Browser – think of it as Google Maps for the body.  Or Google’s free version of Vesalius, VisualMD, Visible Human Project or any of the imagery tools available for the human body.  Note that this is still in beta and requires either Firefox 4 beta or Google Chrome (yet another reason to try Chrome).   Pixels&Pills has a nice overview of some of the features; a screenshot follows.
  3. Google, Exalead and Bing’s advanced operators. We all are familiar with the most common operators for our search engines, but it’s always good to revisit them to make sure we know how to use them as best possible.  Bing’s tend to be more stable (i.e. don’t change on the fly) as much as Google, and they were more in-depth (more operators).  A recent buzz in the blogosphere centered around the AROUND(x) function for Google, which apparently has been around for 5-6 years and documented since October.  If you haven’t been aware, it’s a good thing to know as it functions essentially like an adjacency operator (though Google also ads its own synonym matching).   Note that it has to be in all caps.  While you’re at it, ResourceBlog gives an update on each of the advanced operator lists of Google, Bing, and Exalead.     (side note:  I share ResourceBlog’s issue with Google that Google Librarian Central would have been a great place to share this.  Unfortunately, there is no good place at this time to keep tabs on this stuff.)
  4. Bing and social search. Bing (and Blekko) are integrating Facebook Likes into their search results.  Right now it’s limited to the personalized search, but Bing is, in the future, going to use this to influence search rankings in general (by the way, we all know that personalized search on Bing or Google can mess with the order of your search results right?)
  5. Free Full Text. Herve Basset tells us of free full text, a beta platform by Knowmade in France which claims to index over 10 million free PDFs for full-text search.  While the goal is to improve on Google Scholar’s full-text search capabilities, it curiously relies on Google Custom Search.  May be worth using as a secondary source for that hard-to-find article that may or may not be out there.
  6. is going away (maybe). Lastly, word around the web is that Delicious, one of the more popular social bookmarking sites, is about to be shuttered by Yahoo!  Searchengineland provides some other alternatives if you’re worried.

Google Body Browser










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