Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The world of search engines

Latest Trends in Libraries - A Discussion (Part - II)

Being an information provider, Internet always fascinates me and seems like an unexplored paradise. Internet is an ocean of web and retrieving a specific piece of information needs specialized searching techniques. Search engines, including Meta search engines and directories are the only tools to explore the web, even though the amount of invisible data (invisible web) is much higher than the indexed data. After inception search engines are doing a commendable job to minimize indivisible web.

Brief history of search engines

United States Department of Defense, in the year 1957 created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to enhance the U S supremacy in the area of military with the use of science and technology. They established ARPANET for sharing information with networking technology in 1969 under restricted environment and in 1972 ARPANET went on public domain which led the birth of the Internet. With advent of World Wide Web (WWW) a revolution in the field of information exchange over the Internet has been experienced. Many people get confused on the meaning of the Internet and WWW.

Internet: Internet is the network of the networks where we can talk about machine (computer) and cables (nodes).

WWW: It is the content part on which one can found information in the form of documents, sound, video etc. and it always exist on the Network because www is the programme which communicates between computers connected over the net.

Once Information being started sharing globally by the people, it becomes important to retrieve the same in systematic form. Therefore, Search Engines came into the picture. Search engines works through following three major steps:

Spiders of search engines follow links on the web to request pages that are either not yet indexed or have been updated since they were last indexed.

With help of a crawler, these pages added in the index of the search engines. So while searching, users are not really searching the web but searching in the updated index of the search engines which provide the links to the main source.

User or search Interface (for users) is the 3rd major part of a search engine.

Growth of search engines:

Archie, the first search engine was created in 1990 by Alan Emtage. It indexed computer files which was located at anonymous FTP for downloading. Just after that ‘Gopher’ search engine came to existence which indexed plain text documents

In stream first renowned search engine is World Wide Web Wanderer which was created by Matthew Gray in the year 1993. It is considered at first robot which ran monthly in the initial years to know the size of the web.

The first populated search engine was ‘Excite’ was created in the year 1993. It was the outcome of a project work of few Stanford University students and was released for general use in 1994.

In 1994, two students of Stanford University Jerry Yang and David Filo created Yahoo! by posting web pages with links to them. Their efforts were recognised all over and then they start listing of all their favorite web sites with description of the page and it become the first popular search engine directory to search the web. After receiving funds Yahoo become the prominent name in the search engines.

In the same year WebCrawler was introduced as first full-text search engine. It was again the outcome of a project work at University of Washington. Web public found this search engine as extensive tool to explore the web.

In 1994, Lycos appeared with various indexing facilities. For the year 1996, Lycos had indexed over 60 millions web pages and become largest search engine of that time.

Infoseek introduced in 1995 which was quite similar to Lycos. In the same year Alta Vista was launched. It was the first search engine which allows natural language to retrieve the information with advanced searching techniques. It also provides the searching facilities to multimedia documents, like audio, video, images etc.

Inktomi, in 1996, utilized ‘concept induction’ technology in which experience of human analysis applied to know which web site is mostly used and productive. Inktomi was purchased by Yahoo in 2003.

Ask Jeeves and Northern Light both were launched in 1997. After few months Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Stanford University launched ‘Google’ which started providing inbounds links to rank sites. Later MSN Search and Open Directory were also started. In the year 2004 GoodSearch and wikiseek and in 2006 and Live Search came into existence.

Search engine business is quite competitive, therefore various other search engines like Kosmix and Hakia etc have started mushrooming with additional features apart from simple searching.

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