Over the past couple of weeks new web-based search tools have popped up. These tools are worth investigating as a way to help teens expand their research lives. Two of these search sites use images, in two completely different ways, as a way to enhance the search process:
- Searchme - When someone enters a search term at Searchme the results are displayed visually in a scrollable stack. The result images are screenshots of the sites that match the search terms. For anyone familiar with iTunes and Apple's cover flow style of display, the results â€œlistâ€ is very similar in look to that.Along with the visual results display, Searchme also filters results into categories. For example, in the image below, when the search term YALSA is entered into the search box, a list of categories appears for that search - libraries, children's books, etc. A searcher can click on a specific category and see the results for just that category. Or, the searcher can click on all and see everything that Searchme uncovered. Even if just one category is selected, on the results page the other categories are displayed so it's easy to switch from one to another.
Showing teens Searchme could be useful simply because it works similarly to a tool with which they already may be familiar - iTunes. Making connections between the categorization and display on iTunes with that on Searchme can help you to help teens to think about how search works.
- TinEye - In order to use Tineye you have to setup an account. But, it's worth it because searching TinEye gives you a sense of where search is headed. The idea behind TinEye is that the searcher doesn't search using words but instead searches the web using images. You might wonder what searching the web using images actually means. You can watch the video below to learn about TinEye, but the concept is that you either upload an image that you have on your computer, or paste in the URL of an image that's on the web, and TinEye will find resources that use the same (or a variation of) image.
Consider a teen working on a project where she needs to research a city or specific location. That teen might have access to an image of that city or of that location on the web or on a local computer. If she searches TinEye using that image and finds web pages with that same image on it, then it's very likely that she'll also find information for her project. In this way a traditional search for Paris perhaps becomes a visual search using an image of the skyline of Paris.
As I've been known to say before, it's important for librarians serving teens to recognize the search tools that are preferred by the age group. That doesn't mean ignoring new tools. It does mean showing new tools to teens in order to get their feedback and to expose them to some new possibilities. Searchme and TinEye are particularly good for those teens who are visual and who might be more successful with searching and results that are displayed in an image-based form.
Check these tools out for yourself and see what you and the teens with whom you work think.