honestpuck writes "As someone who lives on the wrong side of the world from the best sources of information and shopping I seem to spend a large amount of time online, and a large part of that in a search engine. Web Search Garage promises to let me 'Find it faster with less junk, less hassle.'" Read on for honestpuck's review of Web Search Garage.
For experienced net researchers and the search-engine savvy among us, the book may well not live up to the promise, though for a large number of 'net users out there it may be just the thing. Where Calishain's previous book, Google Hacks , covered one search engine in great depth in a fairly technical way, this book covers the entire topic of web research in a more friendly manner and language, leaving out the more technical topics of APIs and programming interfaces to spend more time covering advanced search syntaxes and off-the-beaten path search engines and directories.
Calishain has for quite a while written well-researched, informative articles on search engines and research for her weekly newsletter and website ResearchBuzz and the time she has spent on the topic and writing experience have informed this volume. She starts out with the absolute basics, the difference between a search engine (Google) and a searchable subject index (Yahoo) before going on to cover how to get the best out of each.
The book also covers a wide range of search related topics such as finding jobs, local information, multimedia or information about people and Genealogy. Almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopedia get covered. It's hard to think of something missing. Calishain has also taken a great deal of care with her topics. In the section on searching for drugs and medical information, for example, she stresses checking the reliability of your sources.
If you visit Calishain's site for the book at Web Search Garage (which redirects to the book's page at her ResearchBuzz site) there is a link to the table of contents and an example chapter. She also has two 'freebie' articles, 'Four Things Yahoo Can Do that Google Can't' and 'Seven Ways to Save Time Searching' that are further good examples of her writing and the usefulness of the content. She also has an offer for a free six-month subscription to ResearchBuzzExtra, her paid extension to ResearchBuzz.
This volume has gone for breadth instead of depth. That, and the low starting point should make it an ideal beginners book. Since I had on hand my daughter Jessica (a slightly tech-savvy twelve-year-old with a brand-new broadband connection), I lent her my review copy of the book. The response:
"This book is absolutely fantastic and I love it to death! I loved how Tara writes about Google and Yahoo and also about smaller search engines. By reading this book you find out how to find the exact information that you want. Also there are many websites in this book that are very helpful. To make the most of them I wrote them down then later checked them out on the internet. There are heaps of helpful sites for kids and heaps for all ages. Sites for fun and sites for information. I love that it is written as if Tara is talking to you and you are just reading instead of listening. It's a really cool book but if you are going to read it you need to know a little about searching the internet first. A really great book."
Jessica is correct about the language. Tara has written in a light, conversational style that lends itself to quick reading. At the same time either the writing or the editing has been quite tight, the information is packed in. This is a book that needs, indeed deserves, a second read.
The perfect book for the average web user who wants to improve his research skills. I'd put this one in the Christmas stocking for all those people who are getting a new computer or a new broadband connection. That's not to say that the more technical savvy will find nothing in this book, so if you give a copy to someone, either read it first or borrow it back -- you may find it worth enough to get your own copy.
You can purchase Web Search Garage from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.