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Deus ex Machina

Bob Mittan and Paula Edmiston on Web Search Engines

Keynote Address
Resources for the Electronic Classroom
West Chester University, Pennsylvania May 11-12, 2000

Bob Mittan is Director, Casper College-UW/CC Writing Center and on the faculty of the Division of Language & Literature. His Consideration of the Reader's Expectations contains advice on writing in various genera: narrative, explanatory, problem solving, argumentative, investigative and evaluative.

Paula Edmiston is president of Matrix Magic, Inc., a knowledge consulting firm specializing in using the Internet as a personal research tool. Her Hunt Page groups search engines by function (searching, browsing, quick answer) and includes information on learning search strategies, how to evaluate what you find and how to cite what you find.

Glossary of Selected Terms

Deus ex Machina
God from the machine; introduction of a god in a play in order to untangle a plot; outside intervention to resolve a plot. ;-)

Directory or Subject Collection
Subject guides allow you to browse web pages arranged by subject

Field Searching
Restricting a search to specific data. Usually the searchable fields include the title tag, image tag, meta data, URLs.

Hit List
The list of pages containing the result of your search.

Meta Data
Data *about* data. Descriptions of information itself. The two most useful categories of meta data are the Meta Description tag, which briefly describes the content of the web page and the Meta Keyword tag, which contains a list of subject and descriptive words and phrases.

Multi-threaded Search Engines
Multithreaded search engines will conduct a search in several search engines simultaneously.

How a search engine determines the order in which pages will be presented on the hit list.

Ready Reference
Directory resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, directories.

How well an indexed web page meets your search request. Each search engine has its own method of determine relevancy.

Search Engine
Search engines allow a person to type in keywords and to use special commands for phrases, wildcards and boolean relationships.
Last Edited: 15 Apr 2012