SUPER GOOGLING

We’re going to share some of the best tips we came across in a new book: “Google for Lawyers.” The tips are good for anyone, not just lawyers.

For instance, you’ve probably gone to Google.com and noticed that search results now come in almost instantaneously. You see them before you finish typing. (This feature can be turned off if it annoys you.)

What you may not have noticed is that there are categories off to the left on the Google page. The default category searches “Everything.” But to narrow it down, click other categories such as Video, Images, News, etc.  A “Discussions” category lets you see discussions from the last hour, the last week, or a custom range of dates. An “Updates” category brings in the latest comments from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and FriendFeed. You can even limit your search results to people you know or those whose opinions you respect.

“Google for Lawyers” clued us in to using Google “Knol,” a competitor to Wikipedia.  Knol is often a much better place to start your search than using all of Google.

Say you search for the legend of “Atlantis,” for example. On Google.com, typing “Atlantis” as a search term brings up 24 million results, everything from the legend to a casino and a health plan.  Search at knol.google.com and you get 208 results, all of which are about the legend.

Unlike the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Knol is completely open, which means anyone can contribute.  Wikipedia, on the other hand, will only allow topics that have been frequently covered in the media.  This can sometimes be embarrassing for the site. In 2007, a German politician sued Wikipedia on the grounds that Wikipedia’s article on Germany contained too much Nazi symbolism with a particular focus on the Hitler Youth movement. A Wikipedia expert told us, in all candor, that “Unless the media covers it, it doesn’t exist.”

“Google for Lawyers,” by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch is $80 from ababooks.org.  (The “aba” in the web name stance for the American Bar Association.) Besides general tips, it has lawyer-specific advice, such as info on how to retrieve free case law and information from academic sources.

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