For Z510-Introduction to Information Studies at Indiana University
In this essay, I will evaluate two search engines, Yahoo! (search.yahoo.com), and Google (google.com), by applying three related search terms to each system. I will compare and contrast response sets using some of Johnson, Griffiths, and Harltley’s (2003) criteria for evaluating information retrieval systems. I will also describe overlap and differences in those response sets.
Brief Description of Search Engine Interfaces
The Yahoo! and Google search homepages are both simple. The Yahoo! logo, a search box, and a search button appear at the top of Yahoo!’s page. Below that are links to top news stories, a display of local weather information, and links to trending searches. On the Google page, you see the Google logo at the top. Beneath that, we see the search box and a microphone logo. Clicking the microphone allows users to search via voice. Below the search box you see the “Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky.’ Buttons. Beneath that is a link to Google Translate. Links to information about the services appear at the bottom of each search page. I will describe the results pages of each system as I discuss the results of my searches.
My search terms were “assemblage art”, “found objects”, and “junk art.” I have an idea of what these terms mean and how they relate to each other, but I am not seeking specific information about them. The search is purely exploratory. I expect to find current and historical references to this type of art.
I have chosen to evaluate my search results according to criteria described in a paper by Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley (2003). The paper’s authors studied how a group of users evaluated three search engines relative to these categories:
My evaluation will focus on Effectiveness, Utility, and Interaction. Effectiveness can be defined as a measure of how satisfied the user is with the relevance of search results. Utility indicates how useful the results are to the user. Interaction has to do with the ease with which the search results can be modified and refined (Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley, 2003).
Search #1: assemblage art in Yahoo!
A simple search on the term “assemblage art” resulted in 1,480,000 results. The search engine suggested that I try these other terms: assemblage art ideas, mixed media assemblage art, assemblage art sculpture, assemblage art artists, how to make an assemblage, assemblage art jewelry, assemblage art dolls, how to make assemblage art.
All of the links returned on the first five pages of Web results were relevant. All of the results could be of use to me as they provided an overview of the subject including links to examples on Pinterest, and references to encyclopedia entries and artists in the field. This was a very useful search for someone seeking an introduction to this art form. The suggested search terms were helpful in that they offered other points of access to the topic. The suggested terms function as a thesaurus for users who are new to the topic. The system serves as a guide to the user.
The system automatically refines the search by providing results in different categories. Results for Images and Video were clearly relevant. News results required clicking through and reading further to determine relevancy, but someone new to the topic is probably not seeking this type of information. One can narrow results by source within the News results, but I didn’t find this function particularly useful. The More drop-lists gives additional avenues of search. These are local, Answers, Shopping, Auto, Recipes, Sports, Finance, Celebrity, Dictionary, and Games. Answers was the only option that yielded relevant results.
Search #1: assemblage art in Google
My simple search in Google returned 31,800,000 results. The featured result was an article from a resource calling itself an Encyclopedia of Art. The featured text briefly outlined the art form and mentioned two artists famous in this genre. Suggested alternate terms were similar to those offered by Yahoo! Google’s image results greatly overlapped those of Yahoo!’s images. Both systems provide a variety of ways to filter image results. I was able to dig a little deeper using Google’s tools for narrowing my search. There were many relevant results under Shopping, Maps, and Apps. The ability to search under the Books category is a feather in Google’s hat. Overall, for the type of information I was seeking, both systems were quite effective. Someone performing a more serious search could use one of these systems as a starting point, and then consult more specialized resources.
Search #2: found objects in Yahoo! and Google
Yahoo!’s simple search on the term found objects seemed to slant toward opportunities for shopping, whereas more of Google’s results related to using found objects in art. However, when I filtered by the Shopping category, Google’s results were more plentiful than those of Yahoo!’s Shopping page. Both systems returned an abundant number of images with a lot of overlap between the two. Someone seeking information on this topic would do better to click a favorite image and explore its source site. Google’s suggested terms were more art related than Yahoo!’s, and they provide access to a deeper search into the topic.
Search #3: junk art in Yahoo! and Google
Yahoo! did better with junk art than it did with found objects. Probably the word art makes the term more focused. Google’s results seemed again more helpful than those of Yahoo! A searcher seeking information on junk art history will have better luck with Google. Both systems returned similar alternate search terms. I would again advise users to delve into the Image areas of both search engines to find the most relevant and interesting results.
The following graph shows that the Google search yielded more results for all of the search sets in this test.
I will conclude by saying that simple searches such as the ones conducted here can yield effective results in both Yahoo! and Google. As a person who is not an expert on this type of art, I could find entry points to the genre by clicking many of the first page results for these searches. Because this is a topic about visual objects, using the Image filter is a great advantage to someone who simply wishes to dip their toes into the waters of this topic. There was some overlap in results between the search engines, but if I had been really interested in learning about this area, it would have been to my advantage to look closely at results for both systems, as quite a few unique documents were retrieved. Sorting and filtering results for both systems worked in a similar way. Google just seemed better to me. I think that Google’s large number of results provided me with more options for exploration than did Yahoo! Too many results can overwhelm and frustrate users, but too few do not necessarily offer them sufficient options.
In the end, it all depends on how important your search is and how much time you have. A better option for me would be to visit the Fine Arts Library and talk to an actual Librarian.