| Lesson 2 || Search Engine Prerequisites |
| Objective || Information you should know before taking the course |
Search Engine Prerequisites
It is not necessary to have experience in Internet searching, or even to know where to locate search sites; I will introduce you to an assortment of them in the next module.
If you have performed or attempted some Internet searching with a directory or a search site before taking this course, we look forward to introducing some new resources and techniques to you.
You should, however, have a basic familiarity with the concepts and vocabulary of the Internet and be comfortable using a Web browser program to open (or go to) specific Web site addresses (URLs), navigate through Web sites using links, and set bookmarks.
What do you do when you need to find something on the Internet?
In most cases, you go to one of the major search engines and type in the term or phrase that you are looking for and then click through the results, right?
But of course search engines were not always around.
In its infancy, the Internet was not what you think of when you use it now. In fact, it was nothing like the web of interconnected sites that has become one of the greatest business facilitators of our time.
Instead, what was called the Internet was actually a collection of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites that users could access to download or upload files.
To find a specific file in that collection, users had to navigate through each file.
If you knew the right people, which would be the people who knew the exact address of the file you were looking for, you could go straight to the file.
That is assuming you knew exactly what you were looking for. The whole process made finding files on the Internet a difficult, timeconsuming exercise in patience.
But that was before a student at McGill University in Montreal decided there had to be an easier way. In 1990, Alan Emtage created the first search tool used on the Internet and his creation, an index of files on the Internet, was called Archie.
Archie was a tool for indexing FTP archives
Archie was not actually a search engine like those that you use today. But at the time, it was a program many Internet users were happy to have. The program basically downloaded directory listings for all of the files that were stored on
anonymous FTP sites in a given network of computers. Those listings were then plugged into a searchable database of web sites.
The search capabilities of Archie were not as fancy as the natural language capabilities you will find in most common search engines today, but at the time it got the job done.
Archie indexed computer files, making them easier to locate. In 1991, however, another student named Mark McCahill, at the University of Minnesota, decided that if you could search for files on the Internet, then surely you could also search plain text for
specific references in the files. Because no such application existed, he created Gopher, a program that indexed the plain-text documents that later became the first web sites on the public Internet.
With the creation of Gopher, there also needed to be programs that could find references within the indexes that Gopher created, and so Archie's pals finally rejoined him. Veronica (Very Easy
Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives) and
Jughead (Jonzy's Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation and Display) were created to search the files that were stored in the Gopher Index System.
Both of these programs worked in essentially the same way, allowing users to search the indexed information by keyword.
If you do not see the results you want from Google, it may be possible that their robots have not indexed your page.
In the next lesson, the requirements for this course will be discussed.