Using Duck Duck Go for more private search

I know there are many search engines which offer alternatives to Google. I also know that Google has become a verb and that most people gravitate to it without too much concern about why Google is showing you this particular information (and ads) and how much of what you do is shared with it’s vast network. With Google search embedded into corporate websites for search too — it seems that even if you go direct to a site, chances are your search, location and history is shared for future commercial interests.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.35.20 PMWhy am I showing you Duck Duck Go then? Well first up, it’s a Google friendly search layer, which says it doesn’t share your information with Google. I use a VPN a lot of the time, and Google hates it. One reason to use Duck Duck Go seems to be less whining from Google about “we can’t tell who you are”. Next up, it integrates into Chrome with ease. Lastly, it’s fast and has some user-friendly options to help filter your experience. I’ve started to notice, ironically via Google Analytics that Duck Duck Go appears more and more often as an organic search origin. Admittedly my traffic is very small, but never the less people do seem to be using it. A recent article in the Guardian broadens out their business model if you’re interested.

For parents and educators, the choice about where to go to find information as well as the tools used to do is not limited to Apple, Google or Microsoft. While I recognised the marketing mission to see these things installed in schools as firmly as bells and stackable chairs — Duck Duck Go as a default browser will disrupt commercial agendas — and the results of the search are far less media-laden.

Notice what it calls BANGS. These are things you can toggle on an off as sources for the search itself. There are hundreds to choose from, including those we know people use most often. One thing which is really useful is “Show Meanings”.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.35.45 PMWe know from research that first-page results has a huge influence on people’s perceptions of information-importance. It’s also the central mechanism Google use to eek out money from advertisers. To get on the first page (CPC) search requires money. You’d be amazed how much, even for obscure terms. The lucky highest bidder will be surrounded by secondary advertising too, so ultimately even if you rank first, you’re never alone. For students, it’s very distracting at best.

Simply displaying information differently — like this — will cause students to wonder why it’s not the same as Google, and that is an opportunity. One way to expand this important realisation is to talk about “The bubble” which Google puts people inside. A great way to do that is to look at the “Don’t Bubble Us” site, which has some great (simple) example graphics to talk about.

I wish I’d had more of this kind of technology several years ago. Tools such as Duck Duck Go would have been in my SOE because ethically there are HUGH issues with the commercialisation of children though technology (and information). The idea that information — what you can and can’t see should be based on your current circumstances, location and available history is as dark as any dystopian novel has eluded to. I am not saying avoid commercial tools — but do come up with an argument as to why not positively considering alternatives to Google Search is “good practice” and not just “yes, I told them”.

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Tineye – Reverse image search

Here’s something you might like, because it adds a new dimension to critical literacy, and plugs into your browser. Tineye is a delightfully simple, but clever tool. It allows you to find out where an image came from how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version.

You can install a browser plug-in to right click and find out more. Here is one I grabbed from Jude’s recent blog post.

It could be handy for finding out just where that image came from, priming discussions around original  source, attribution, copyright etc., or just really handy for finding out how far images that you’ve created as info-graphics have gone since you posted them to the internet. Either way, it’s a valuable addition to the war on ‘crap’, that I also recommend you read from Harold Rheingold’s article in Educause.

Faveoo – The semantic web and Twitter

Faveeo.com is a very interesting and innovative exploration of the semantic web. The video is by the creator, so you are getting it first hand.

According to wikipedia,

Humans are capable of using the Web to carry out tasks such as finding the Irish word for “directory”, reserving a library book, and searching for a low price for a DVD. However, one computer cannot accomplish all of these tasks without human direction, because web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of information that is understandable by computers, so computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.

The service is currently in beta, you can register your interest by submitting your email on their website. It is well worth looking at the implications for this in a world where singularity is rare and our ability to ‘find’ information with the available time we have diminishes hourly. I am hoping Judy O’Connell will be able to give attendees at the MQLTC2010 conference her insight into where information is heading. I admit, I’ve been hearing the term, but spend almost no time looking into it. I’m going to rectify that after watching this video. Thanks Judy for the heads up on this video.

Eyeplorer

Eyeplorer is a great visual search tool – which does more than simply connect to other terms in a chain … you get the idea right? It visualizes facts as well as relationships between facts, pulling information from the place that kids love to go – Wikipedia. There is also a note tool, so content can be clipped and snipped for later use. I gave it a run though with Miss6, she loved it … so did I – check this map for Volkswagen!