Genealogy searches on google

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  • Thank you. Today I would like to talk about one of the most effective genealogy tools of today.
    Genealogists have long used whatever tools were available that helped our research efforts. We have used old records, microfilm, microfiche, copy machines, typewriters, word processors, specialized software and more. Indeed, we have always used whatever tools were available, whether they were designed purposely for genealogy or were generic general-purpose tools that could be adapted for our use.
    Today's topic is one of the most powerful genealogy tools available: Google.
    Google is a search engine. In fact, it is the "king of all search engines." Google receives over 200 million queries each day through its various services. Web search is the most popular service that Google offers. It is a free service that helps Internet users find relevant information by performing keyword searches through an incredible amount of data.
  • Google's mission statement is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
    {Emphasis:} Think about that goal: "organize the world's information… {pause} and make it universally accessible and useful."
    The world's information obviously includes genealogy information. In fact, Google does organize all the genealogy information it can find but does not organize it in any manner that is specific to genealogy. Google does not build GEDCOM file or ahnentafel charts or lists of descendants. That is left to the human.
  • Google's mission statement is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
    {Emphasis:} Think about that goal: "organize the world's information… {pause} and make it universally accessible and useful."
    The world's information obviously includes genealogy information. In fact, Google does organize all the genealogy information it can find but does not organize it in any manner that is specific to genealogy. Google does not build GEDCOM file or ahnentafel charts or lists of descendants. That is left to the human.
  • If printed, the pages being indexed would result in a stack more than 700 miles high.
    Most users utilize Google to search web pages; however, many other types of searches are available. Googlers can search dictionaries, movie listings, music databases, Internet images, Usenet newsgroups, phonebook listings, news headlines, and much more.
  • The basic search tends to answer most questions; although, it is possible for users to customize the results that Google returns. Since Google has become a recognizable brand in many countries, the Google interface can be viewed in 116 languages (including Elmer Fudd and Pig Latin). Users can even customize the format of the result pages Google returns. The preferences page allows users to select the number of results that are returned and filter out adult content.
  • The basic search tends to answer most questions; although, it is possible for users to customize the results that Google returns. Since Google has become a recognizable brand in many countries, the Google interface can be viewed in 116 languages (including Elmer Fudd and Pig Latin). Users can even customize the format of the result pages Google returns. The preferences page allows users to select the number of results that are returned and filter out adult content.
  • So how does Google make money? The bulk of Google's revenue is derived from relevant ads in search results and other types of web pages. The Google Adwords program prides itself on showing cost-effective text advertising that is usually beneficial to consumers, advertisers, and Google. The results are impressive: the company founded eight years ago now has a market cap of 117 billion dollars.
    Google's two founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were college students with no income nine years ago in 1997. The two borrowed $1 million from family, friends and other investors. On September 7, 1998 Google was commercially launched from a single computer in friend's garage. That single computer has now grown to more than 10,000 Linux-based servers installed in several data centers around the world. Together, the Linux systems handle the normal daily demand of 200 million queries a day, or 50 per cent of all searches conducted on-line.
    Less than eight years after founding their company, the two founders are now both multi-billionaires with stock estimated to be worth in the tens of billions each.
    Page and Brin have not let fame and fortune go to their heads. They still share a single office with modest furniture. They don't drive exotic sports cars. Each of them drives a Toyota Prius, a plain-looking but rather environmentally friendly hybrid automobile. Sergey Brin still lives in a rented two-bedroom apartment.
    The company headquarters in Mountain View, California, reflects the founders' modest views. The company has its own corporate ambiance and jargon. Employees are known as Googlers, the building as the GooglePlex. A constant supply of free peanut butter and jam sandwiches is available to all employees. Boardroom meetings used to be held around a table-tennis table.
    The company also sponsors weekly games of roller-hockey in the parking lot, provides an on-site masseuse and a piano. The head chef of Google's cafeteria used to be the personal chef for the rock band Grateful Dead.
    Each member of the Google team is given one day a week to spend on their own pet projects.
  • The company mission statement simply says, "Don't be evil."
    So how can this new-age company with corporate morals and the latest high-tech hardware help us find dead people? Surprisingly, Google does so rather easily.
  • First, a couple of basic concepts need to be explained.
    First, when it comes to genealogy information, Google can only examine static web pages. (I am ignoring some of the more exotic Google services that are not useful for genealogy purposes.) A static web page is one that is created by a person, company or other organization and published in much the same manner as a printed page of information. For instance, a static web page will list descendants or ancestors of an individual.
    In contrast, Google does not query databases for information. That is, the internal operation of www.FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and many other genealogy databases is based upon queries. The user visits the site and then asks for the ancestry of a person. The database-driven web site then looks up the information in an internal database and returns the results by creating a brand-new web page at that moment to display to the user. The new web page is then deleted a few seconds or minutes later. These are "dynamic web pages." That is, web pages created at the moment that someone asks for the information. Again, Google cannot search and index dynamic web pages.
  • Next, almost all search engines operate by Boolean combinations of words and phrases. Google defaults to the Boolean search term of AND. That is, all words are combined with AND operations unless specified otherwise.
    A search of: John Smith Denver Colorado
    Is the same as: John AND Smith AND Denver AND Colorado. The search will attempt to find all pages that contain all four terms. If it cannot find those, it will next search for pages that contain the first three terms and so on.
    That search will find the following:
    "John Jacobs and William Smith of the Colorado Mining Company in Denver, Texas"
  • This can be either a help or a hindrance in genealogy searches, however. Let's take an example from my own ancestry. My great-great-grandfather was named Washington Harvey Eastman. His birthplace is unknown but he lived most of his adult life in Corinth, a small town in Penobscot County, Maine, just north of the city of Bangor.
  • Google's mission statement is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
    {Emphasis:} Think about that goal: "organize the world's information… {pause} and make it universally accessible and useful."
    The world's information obviously includes genealogy information. In fact, Google does organize all the genealogy information it can find but does not organize it in any manner that is specific to genealogy. Google does not build GEDCOM file or ahnentafel charts or lists of descendants. That is left to the human.

Transcript

  • 1. Genealogy Searches on Google
  • 2. Today’s Slides are available at: http://www.eogn.com/handouts/google
  • 3. Google's mission statement • “Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
  • 4. Google users can: • search through more than 25 billion web pages (www.worldwidewebsize.com ) compared to 9 billion on Bing and 12 billion on Yahoo • search through approximately 10 billion images (www.webpronews.com) • Read millions of messages
  • 5. If printed: • the pages being indexed would result in a stack more than 1,000 miles high.
  • 6. So how does Google make money?
  • 7. Google’s Motto Don’t be evil
  • 8. Basic Concepts • static web pages • dynamic web pages
  • 9. Google Searches • Google will find most of the information that you and I post on the web, along with more information published by tens of thousands of other individuals and societies. • Google will not find the information stored within the databases of the big sites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and others.
  • 10. Google searches by words • Boolean logic • Upper/lower case is ignored • “Trivial words” are ignored: I, a, the, of, etc.
  • 11. Boolean AND is Assumed A search of: John Smith Denver Colorado Is the same as: John AND Smith AND Denver AND Colorado
  • 12. This can be changed by specifying Boolean terms • "John Smith" AND "Denver, Colorado" (the AND may be omitted) • This search will return results that contain both phrases
  • 13. Other Boolean searches can help • (John OR William) AND Smith AND Denver AND (Colorado OR CO) John Smith of Denver, CO John Smith in Denver, Colorado William Smith Colorado Mining Company in Denver, Texas
  • 14. Genealogy challenges • A search for Washington Harvey Eastman • Will produce many “hits” relating to photography in Washington, DC as well as references to many people named Harvey or Washington!
  • 15. Genealogy challenges • A search for “Washington Harvey Eastman” (with the quote marks) • Will not produce references to: – Washington H. Eastman – Washington Eastman – W. H. Eastman Etc.
  • 16. Genealogy challenges You can use a minus sign, meaning “NOT” A search for: Washington Harvey Eastman –Kodak Should eliminate most references to photography
  • 17. Google’s Special Syntaxes • site: – Allows you to narrow the search by a site or a top-level domain • Examples: – familysearch.org – Ancestry.com – edu
  • 18. Google’s Special Syntaxes • cache: – Finds a copy of a web page that Google indexed even if that page is no longer available today or has since changed its contents. • Example: cache:www.eogn.com
  • 19. Isle of Clett
  • 20. Isle of Clett
  • 21. Google’s Special Syntaxes • daterange: – Limits your date to a particular date or range of dates that a page was indexed. – Note #1: It is the date that the page was INDEXED by Google, not the page CREATION date! – Note #2: Date format must be in Julian dates
  • 22. Google’s Special Syntaxes • filetype: – May specify to search only for PDF, Word (DOC), PowerPoint (PPT), Excel (XLS) or other file types.
  • 23. Advanced Search • Query Word Input • Language • Filtering • File Format • Date
  • 24. Advanced Search
  • 25. Advanced Search
  • 26. Setting Preferences • Language • Filtering • Number of Results • Results Window
  • 27. Setting Preferences
  • 28. Wildcard Searches
  • 29. Definitions of Any Word (in many Languages)
  • 30. Conversions
  • 31. Flight Status
  • 32. Time Zone Conversions
  • 33. Google Books
  • 34. Google Books
  • 35. Google Books
  • 36. Google Books
  • 37. Need more information? http://www.google.com/help
  • 38. Need still more information?
  • 39. What Will Google Do Next? http://www.eogn.com
  • 40. Today’s Slides are available at: http://www.eogn.com/handouts/google