Creating my own space in the digital realm

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Comparing Yahoo! and Google Search

For Z510-Introduction to Information Studies at Indiana University

Screen shot of Google search of the term assemblage art.


In this essay, I will evaluate two search engines, Yahoo! (, and Google (, 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.
Search Terms
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 I expect to find current and historical references to this type of art.

Evaluation Criteria

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:
• Effectiveness
• Utility
• Efficiency
• Interaction
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.


Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley. (2003). Task dimensions of user evaluations of information retrieval systems. Information Research, 8(4)


Humanities Librarian/DH Consultant Project: Final


I wish that I had documented my process for doing this assignment. I didn’t do that, so I’ll have to piece it together from memory. I’ll link to sections of the LibGuide as I go. To begin, here’s an excerpt from the scope note I submitted in October.

Whitney Sperrazza’s HASTAC project is titled “Feeling Violation: Digital/Physical Approaches to Sexual Violence.” When I met with Whitney, she was not able to formulate a research question, but she is interested in finding out how digital tools and methods can be used to help readers “…gain new critical perspectives on literary representations of sexual violence and the writing and reading bodies interacting with those representations.”

I never got a clear idea of what Whitney is trying to accomplish with this project. It occurs to me now to ask what the readers she mentioned would do with those new “critical perspectives.” It might have been worth it to ask her what the existing critical perspectives are.

Being the Librarian

I’ll discuss my search strategies and my attempt to help Whitney conduct her own searches. Since I’m in school learning how to be a librarian, I thought I’d start with Library of Congress Subject Headings.









Subject Headings and Keywords

Below is a table showing the subject headings (grouped by topic) that were useful in my searches of scholarly databases.

Topic: Theater and Drama, Headings: Theater, Acting, Feminism and theater, Feminist theater, Sex in the theater, Violence in the theater, Women in the theater Topic: Rape, Headings: Rape in art, Rape in literature, Rape trauma syndrome, Rape victims, Rape victims in literature, Sexual abuse victims, Sex crimes, Topic: Therapeutic Modalities, Headings Dance therapy, Authentic movement (dance therapy), Art therapy, music therapy

Click image to enlarge.

I experimented with these keywords when searching Google.

  • language of sexual violence
  • dance therapy for rape victims
  • art therapy for rape victims
  • rape survivor stories
  • rape survivor poetry
  • sexual violence
  • haptic aesthetics


The databases I consulted included Gender Studies DatabaseMLA International BibliographyPsychINFO, and Counseling and Therapy in Video. I also suggested the use of Twentieth Century American Poetry.

Tips and Tricks

The search tips I placed in the LibGuide included links to pre-existing help content in the LibGuides environment. I also embedded video tutorials on using EBSCO Host and ProQuest. I got the impression that Whitney wasn’t looking for help from a librarian, so I hope she can at least benefit from the search advice.

In Their Own Words

Because Whitney was interested in how sexual violence feels, I decided to go to the source and find stories told by people who have experienced this violence. I searched Google using the phrase “rape victim stories.”  This yielded lots of results, which says a lot about our society.

Stories on Video Google Search Results: Rape Victim Stories A Rape Survivor's Story Written Stories, Survivor Websites, Social Media... Dancing in the Darkness - Over 650 survivor stories. Survivor Stories on "Over the Rainbow." Scars from the past, surviving rape - A Pinterest board about surviving rape 27 Survivors Of Sexual Assault Quoting The People Who Attacked Them - On BuzzFeed, Project Unbreakable is an online photography project that aims to “encourage the act of healing through art.” Project Unbreakable

Click image to visit the page.

The Arts

Whitney told be that she had been looking at Renaissance poetry and drama for depictions of sexual violence, so I decided to include other arts disciplines in my materials search. I gathered links to articles, papers, books, and images that touched on the topic. They can be found in the “Sexual Violence in Literature and the Arts” section of the LibGuide.

This painting is an example of sexual violence depicted in visual art.

Le Rapt à l'age de pierre, 1888, Paul Jamin

Le Rapt à l’age de pierre, 1888, Paul Jamin

Modes of Therapy

The LibGuide includes a section with links to information about art, dance, and music therapy. I don’t know how useful this would be to Whitney, but I felt I would be remiss not to address the topic of recovery from sexual violence. There is also a section titled “The Body and Movement.” This section includes links to resources about Laban Movement Analysis. If Whitney chooses to dig deeper into this area, I think she would need to consult an expert.

Tech Tools and Other Projects

Whitney indicated that she needed to learn about some of the technologies used in implementing digital humanities projects. I provided a list of web resources that discuss a wide variety of technology tools. I don’t know exactly what she envisions for the project, so I just grabbed what I could find so she can use it as a jumping off point.

I listed some DH projects that might be similar to what she wants to do, but I’m not sure that I hit the mark. She did show me a project that peaked her interest called “the real white faces of australia.” It is an experimental browser showing images of people who were affected by the White Australia Policy.

Screenshot from the "real faces of white australia."

Click image to visit site.












Now that I’ve taken a second look at this project, I’m hoping that Whitney can do something like it. She might have to scrap a lot of her initial ideas and open up to new possibilities, but something great could happen.

Wrapping it Up

I loved this assignment! I love searching for stuff! I think I need to do a DH project even though I don’t think I fully understand what one is. I’m not sure anyone really knows what makes something qualify as a Digital Humanities project. Maybe we shouldn’t use the term Digital Humanities. Perhaps, since everything done these days is touched by the digital, we should just do what we do, and then put it online. That’s a topic for another post.

I want to be an Adobe Illustrator Superstar*

*By superstar, I think I mean someone who is fairly proficient.

Adobe Illustrator CS6 is an awesome tool for making vector graphics. It is probably the vector creation software of choice for most graphic designers and other professionals who create graphics for a living. Like all Adobe products, it’s packed with features, and comes with a steep learning curve.  I learned how to use Illustrator at a rudimentary level in two Indiana University IT Training Workshop, “Illustrator CS6: The Basics,” and “Adobe CS6: Pen Tool Basics.”  Now that I’m somewhat comfortable with the software, I practice on my own. My skills are improving a little, but if I’m going to become really good at Illustrator, I have to seek out some more training resources. (See the post I wrote  for the IU IT Training Tips Blog about taking the skills you learn in a workshop to the next level).

Random Illustrator objects.

Random Illustrator objects.

There are a lot of Illustrator tutorials out there.  I’ll share some of them with you now.

  1. Learn Illustrator CS6 on AdobeTV – 21 videos, most under 3 minutes. This is a basics series for those getting started with Illustrator. 
  2. Check the Adobe Illustrator Blog for more tutorials and tips.
  3. Vector Tuts+ has a lot of content including tutorials, articles, tips, and resources. Premium members can access features such as online courses and an ebook library.
  4. Astute Graphics’ blog has a quite a few free tutorials, tips, and tricks.
  5. Chris Spooner’s Spoon Graphics offers free Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials.  You can find more content on his Facebook  page too.
  6. An excellent source for technology training is Most lynda content is available  to paying subscribers only, but if you’re serious about learning, it’s probably worth the expense.

I think those are enough resources to get you (and me) started. I’m collecting Illustrator tutorial resources on Pearltrees, check there once in a while to see if anything new shows up.