Sometimes you’re more interested in large information collections than scouring for specific bits and bobs. Using Google, there are a couple of different ways of finding directories, link lists [Hack #44], and other information collections. The first way makes use of Google’s full-word wildcards [Hack #13] and the intitle: [Section 1.5] syntax. The second is judicious use of particular keywords.
you’d like to find collections of information about.
We’ll use “trees”
as our example. The first thing we’ll look for is
any page with the words “directory”
and “trees” in its title. In fact,
we’ll build in a little buffering for words that
might appear between the two using a couple of full-word
wildcards [Hack #13] (
* characters). The
resultant query looks something like this:
intitle:"directory * * trees"
This query will find “directories of evergreen trees,” “South African trees,” and of course “directories containing simply trees.”
What if you wanted to take things up a notch, taxonomically speaking,
and find directories of botanical information? You’d
use a combination of
intitle: and keywords like
botany intitle:"directory of"
And you’d get over 6,600 results. Changing the tenor of the information might be a matter of restricting results to those coming from academic institutions. Appending an “edu” site specification brings you to:
botany intitle:"directory of" site:edu
This gets you around 120 results, a mixture of resource directories and, unsurprisingly, directories of university professors.
Mixing these syntaxes works rather well when you’re searching for something that might also be an offline print resource. For example:
cars intitle:"encyclopedia of"
This query pulls in results from Amazon and other sites selling car encyclopedias. Filter out some of the more obvious book finds by tweaking the query slightly:
cars intitle:"encyclopedia of" -site:amazon.com -inurl:book -inurl:products
The query specifies that search results should not come from Amazon.com, should not have the word “book” in the URL, or the word “products,” which eliminates a fair amount of online stores. Play with this query by changing the word “cars” to whatever you’d like for some interesting finds.
(Of course there are lots of sites selling books online, but when it
comes to injecting “noise” into
results when you’re trying to find online resources,
research-oriented information, Amazon is the biggest offender. If
you’re actually looking for books, try
If mixing syntaxes doesn’t do the trick for the resources you want, there are some clever keyword combinations that might just do the trick.
There are a few major searchable subject indexes and myriad minor ones
that deal with a particular topic or idea. You can find the smaller
subject indexes by customizing a few generic searches.
cool" directory, while gleaning a a few false results, is a great
way of finding searchable subject indexes.
new is an interesting
one. Gossamer Threads is the creator of a popular link
directory program. This is a good way to find searchable subject
indexes without too many false hits.
doesn’t work particularly well, because the word
“directory” is not a very reliable
search term; but you will pull in some things with this query that
you might otherwise miss.
Let’s put a few of these into practice:
"what's new" "what's cool" directory phylum "what's new" "what's cool" directory carburetor "what's new" "what's cool" directory "investigative journalism" "what's new" directory categories gardening directory "gossamer threads" new sailboats directory "what's new" categories cool "basset hounds"
The real trick is to use a more general word, but make it unique enough that it applies mostly to your topic and not to many other topics.
Take acupuncture, for instance. Start narrowing it down by topic:
what kind of acupuncture? For people or animals? If for people, what
kind of conditions are being treated? If for animals, what kind of
animals? Maybe you should be searching for
acupuncture" or maybe you should be searching for
arthritis. If this
first round doesn’t narrow down search results
enough for you, keep going. Are you looking for education or
treatment? You can skew results one way or the other by using the
site: syntax. So maybe you want
site:edu. Just by taking a
few steps to narrow things down, you can get a reasonable number of
search results focused around your topic.