Search Now, Search Later, Search Forever

Have you ever started an Internet search on a topic only to find yourself getting side-tracked and what started as a "quick" look up ended in hours of searching and indulging? The Internet is far too vast with far too much information, good and bad, on every imaginable topic. And for each topic, there are countless providers of information, opinions and stuff. Do we have time for all this? I am only talking about time indulgence on the Internet, not to mention the countless other mediums and activities that take our time.

When I say "Internet search", I am being search engine agnostic, although I must say I tend towards using Google search. Other top-tier search engine providers include Yahoo and Bing. I often take a scan on the other search engines as well. There is such a breadth and depth of information on the Internet, it is difficult to know where to end. When to end is dictated by the practical reality of available time. Where to start is either through the search engines or through URL-hyperlink referrals from friends and beyond.

With millions of search results for a given search phrase, how do I narrow things down? I attempt to use more specificity in keywords, expressions or phrases. But invariably, I am confronted with many pages of search results. For initial "breadth of search", I tend to go down a couple of pages. As I find the need to home in on more specific and relevant information, I usually search more pages, filtering what I am looking through in order to find what I need. Looking for time-sensitive material in contrast to timeless material is another dimension to consider.

Sites that show up later in the search engine results are not necessarily sites without good and relevant information. Sometimes I go to the last page (or later pages) of search results to gauge information quality. Why do the search engines show the number of results in the millions and billions when they only list the first thousand or so? Is it there to impress me on their search engine prowess? Or is it there to enlighten me on how vast the Internet is?

Commercial sites tend to be in top search results, organically through popularity of their quality content (visits and links to the site). Advertising on search engine results pages are also a good source of information, properly organized and presented. But with any commercial establishment, there can be less dubious players. Tread carefully, as always.

I often expand my search beyond the first few pages. On occasion, I set my Google search to display 100 results per page and I find myself going beyond the first page.

The Internet is an eye opener, to say the least! But it does consume time. However, time you enjoy wasting, is not time wasted.

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Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana. - Bill Gates