I recently ran into this review of a new book, “Going Beyond Google.” The book is authored by Jane Devine and Francine Egger-Sider. The review got me curious so I contacted the publisher, Neal-Schuman, and got a review copy.

The book’s subtitle is “The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching” and that’s what the book is about, educating people about the part of the web that many of us refer to as the deep Web. The book is targeted to students in LIS programs who are first learning about search technologies. The book aims to broaden their horizons and to wean them from the attitude that Google knows all. The book is a small paperback, just 156 pages, but it’s densely packed with information.

“Going Beyond Google” is divided into three parts, seven chapters, and several appendices. Here are the title of the parts and chapters:

Part I: Understanding the Division Between the Visible and Invisible Web
Chapter 1: Characteristics of the Invisible Web
Chapter 2: Use of the Web for Research

Part II: Finding and Utilizing the Contents of the Invisible Web
Chapter 3: Introducing Students to the Invisible Web
Chapter 4: Further Exploration of the Invisible Web
Chapter 5: Internet Research Strategies: An Example
Chapter 6: A Sampler of Tools for Mining the Invisible Web

Part III: Narrowing the Gap Between the Visible and Invisible Web
Chapter 7: Visible versus Invisible Web: Shifting Boundaries

While readers of this blog may be familiar with much of the content, some of it will be new. The book is remarkably well researched and I was particularly delighted to see a good number of references to articles I was not aware of. I was not, however, able to find any mention in the book of whether the references were available online. It will be a bummer if they’re not as some of those links are long and hard to type.

Chapter 1 introduces and characterizes the Invisible Web and explains why Google and the other crawlers can’t find content there. It also provides a list and explanation of “false impressions” about the Web that I enjoyed. Here are the six myths:

  1. Everything worth finding is already on the Web.
  2. Google searches the whole Web.
  3. The best information is found in the first ten results.
  4. Searching is easy.
  5. Everything important is free.
  6. Everything is truthful, authoritative and accurate.

Chapter 2 reviews the literature on use of the Web for research. It addresses questions about behaviors of Web users. What do Americans do on the Internet? What tools do they use for research, whether it be personal research or otherwise? What percent of the population uses search engines for research? How confident do people feel in evaluating what they find on the Web? What percent of users rely on other sources of information, such as professionals, friends, and libraries, for their research? The chapter also includes a table from the Research Information Network that shows what percent of the population used which tools for particular tasks. That table is fairly current; it’s from 2006.

Chapter 3 tackles the question of how to introduce students to the Invisible Web. The first consideration is, of course, how much time one has and what venues are available for the instruction. The Invisible Web can be introduced at the reference desk in a “teachable moment,” in a single class period (if that’s the time available), in credit courses, and using course management systems. The chapter introduces a staged approach to teaching Invisible Web literacy and it includes detailed tables that map concepts and the stage in which they’re introduced to ACRL standards, and to AASL standards. This chapter alone provides a rigorous structure that can be used to introduce students to searching beyond Google.

Chapter 4 asks students to deepen their Invisible Web research skills. It presents three activities with these aims:

  1. To learn about the Invisible Web from what others say about it
  2. To become better able to identify when one is using the Invisible Web
  3. To compare results from a general search engine with those from Invisible Web tools

The chapter provides a good amount of guidance in how to achieve the goals.

Chapter 5 walks the reader through various strategies for performing Invisible Web research using a variety of resources. This chapter is well illustrated and proves that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Chapter 6 introduces a number of directories, databases (free and subscription), and specialized search engines that will help students in their research.

Chapter 7 discusses the shifting relationship between the Visible and Invisible Web. The chapter caught my attention because it provided figures I’d never seen before about the sizes of the surface and deep Web. Like many of you, I’ve gone by Michael Bergman’s figures in his 2001 paper. Now I have figures from 2007 to cite although I do need to contact Paul Gil, the provider of the more recent figures, to see where he gets his data for the size of the Invisible Web. The chapter discusses the blurring of the Web. With Google now crawling some of the Invisible Web, and with the introduction of Google Scholar and Google Book Search, many of us in the know aren’t quite so sure what the Invisible Web is anymore. And, Web 2.0 — is that Visible or Invisible Web content?

As you might have gathered I like this book a lot. It’s thorough, well researched, well articulated, densely packed, and very well organized. And, it provides lots of structure for course instructors to use in the classroom. Plus, the authors are very fluent and very current in the subject matter.

Do I have any concerns about the book? Yes. At $65.00, it’s too expensive to recommend to someone with only casual interest in the subject. But, in fairness to the publisher, they have positioned the book as a textbook. I also have the concern that some of the references are old. Having researched the Invisible Web myself I’m painfully aware of how difficult it is to get current citations. But, I’m still nervous about using references that are more than two or three years old in this industry that is so rapidly changing. And, my final criticism is the one I mentioned earlier, the book should provide a link to a page that contains all the references.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 6:57 pm and is filed under resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

3 Responses so far to "Review: Going Beyond Google"

  1. 1 Ann Matsuuchi
    May 7th, 2009 at 10:20 am  

    A number of the links can be found here: http://library.laguardia.edu/invisibleweb/webography

  2. 2 drew
    July 12th, 2009 at 11:05 am  

    cool! i know as a fact that the engines are busy crawling webpages so there is alot more sites on the web than you can ever see or hear of.

  3. 3 GNU
    July 13th, 2009 at 11:47 am  

    Invisible web eh? Never heard that one before. Time to do a bit of research

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