It’s not important to know something, but it’s essential to be able to find it. This phrase leads us to two crucial topics. The first is “where” and the second is “how” to actually search for information. Originally, the internet had no search engines and the first possibilities of manually created lists, the first subject catalogues and search engines gradually appeared later. Today most people have no need to choose a search engine. All you have to do is open any web browser – Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari – and type a search command into the address bar. While only several years ago it was necessary to remember the exact address of a website, today a rough equivalent or key words will direct the user to the search engine (most often Google or Bing) and they can then choose what suits them.
The first step in searching that most of us begin with is simple – using the browser’s address bar. This is a quick solution, and even the browser creators themselves expect this to be the strategy that we most often use. On the other hand, the search engine doesn’t always have to meet our requirements or give us correct results, so it’s also good to be able to look elsewhere or to have an overview of the basic possibilities that the search engines offer.
In the following overview, we’ll take a look at three search engines that are suitable for general queries, and then have a look (via subjective selection) at a few tools that are also good for searches if you’re looking for something special.
Google is the largest search engine in the world. It’s set as the default search engine in the majority of web browsers. For most people, it’s the first choice for searches. If you use Google, we recommend going beyond its common search functions and learn some of the more advanced tricks it offers. You’ll find this very useful. At the same time, many of Google’s tools can be used to search for a certain type of information – books, scientific articles, images, reports, etc.
Bing is Microsoft’s alternative to Google. It is the second most commonly used browser in the world and the default engine in Edge and Internet Explorer. It is mainly useful when you want to reduce your dependency on Google products or if you use Microsoft ecosystem services.
Seznam.cz is a Czech search engine – it uses its own tools for indexing and searching on the Czech internet.
Google is better in many respects, but despite this fact many less-demanding users prefer it in the Czech environment.
In this topic, we’ll focus on how to search for (and find) things that are usually hard to find in a normal manner but can be useful or practical in our lives. Anyone can find general information on the internet like “what was the score of the Sparta vs. Kometa match” or “When did Charles IV reign”. That’s why we’ll have a look at some “hacks” that you might find useful.
Whose owns what property? If you want to find out who a certain property belongs to, maybe because you’d like to build a park in a certain area or contact a property owner to tell him his fence is falling apart, a good tool is the Cadaster of Real Estate. In it you can search according to plot number and address, or by apartment number if you live in an apartment building and want to find out who owns the flat that keeps switching tenants. This service is very practical, because according to Czech law, an entry into the Cadaster is unamendable – if you’re going to own real estate, we highly recommend looking into the Cadaster once a month to see if it’s still yours. Once the 30-day period is up, there’s no chance to change this.
Data, data and data can be found on the website of the Czech Statistical Office. Use the website when you need any information on the Czech Republic that is of a statistical character. If you want to see how population size is changing (at the time this text was written, the Czech population was 10,668,641), how GDP is growing, or how many families don’t have a computer at home, you’re at the right address. This is an excellent resource for free-time browsing, gathering data for a term paper, or for various disputes on the state of things. At the moment, for example, you can find election results here. Studies of the basic social sciences are almost unimaginable without this source of information. If you need data from the EU, you can also try Eurostat. (Did you know, for example, that the number of EU citizens has been growing since 2008, or that GDP in the second quarter of 2019 grew the quickest in Hungary?)
Are you looking for art? Then you’ll like Europeana, with more than 57 million digital objects, most of which are free to use. You can access works of art, archeological finds and many other resources here. If you like to visit galleries, then you shouldn’t miss Google Arts and Culture, where you can find digitalized artwork (with a very pleasant and original search function) and walk through the gallery using Google’s StreetView. If you’re interested in what can be done virtually with art collections, we recommend the Experiments section.
Searching by color with Google Arts & Culture. Source: KISK.
Now that we’re talking about digitalized objects, you definitely shouldn’t miss the American version of Europeana, archive.org. The most interesting thing about it is the WaybackMachine, a kind of internet time machine. Want to find out what a website looked like throughout history? Then this is the right place. It naturally hasn’t indexed everything, but you can definitely find Seznam.cz from 1996 or Yahoo.com from the same year. Try looking in half-year intervals at how these websites have changed and think about why. If you’re looking for sites from the Czech internet before 1996 (i.e. the very beginnings), the Muzeum internetu can help.
Images are useful for your own presentation or websites. In order to freely use images and not have to reference them (i.e. provide a link to the source), you’ll need images with a CC0 (Creative Commons) license. There are many photo banks that offer such collections on the internet – we definitely recommend searching on Unsplash, Pexels or StockSnap.io. These sites are priceless to web creators – all you need to do is consider whether the beautiful image you’ve chosen isn’t already being used by dozens of other people on their websites.
Are you looking for answers to both simple and complex questions? Then Quora is the proper place. This is the largest and most active website where you can find answers to just about anything – would you like to know how a light bulb works, what software to use to automatically transcribe text from a dictaphone, or how to bake a coffee cake? Everything’s here – and you can ask about anything that isn’t. Quora is a community project, so everyone can ask and respond at the same time. Free registration is necessary to make full use of the website. Many nice tutorials can be found at WikiHow including images – you can go from themes like “how to write an essay” to a tutorial on “how to remove labels from jars” or “how to fold underwear”.
With WolframAlpha, you can see the world through the eyes of a dog or multiply fractions. Source: KISK.
WolframAlpha is a very extraordinary search engine and can do things that a person wouldn’t expect to look for – for example, it’s able to show you what a molecule of citric acid looks like, tell you what happened on the 14th of May in 1820, or search for available information on Václav Havel. The system can do much more, for example search through your friends (if you grant it account access) on Facebook and divide them up into groups according to where you know each other from, or count complex equations. In order to make full use of it, you’ll need to go through some of the site’s help sections, but it can definitely come in handy for many practical situations.