Wednesday, December 23, 2020

SearchResearch End-of-year Summary


This is the last SRS post of 2020.... 

.... thank heavens!  

As you know, it's been a strange year, but we've soldiered forward with 26 Challenges (and 26 Answers), a bunch of additional content (both Extras and Public Service Announcements).  We had just over 1100 comments--thanks Regular Readers!  

To take a look back is always rewarding--so here's my Year in SRS view.  

The Challenges went like this.. Remember these?  

Mysterious rainbows and fossils in the floor 

Canary Islands cooking (Originally called "Where's this place?") 

What is Bernard singing about? 

How to find old songs  (YouTube is remarkably helpful in finding old tunes. This includes REALLY old tunes, e.g., Gregorian chants.)  

Does banning plastic bags actually help the environment?  (It's not clear that it does.)   

When to provide context?  (If your research question has any depth, you need to provide some context for your answer.  Big tip: Almost all questions require context.)  

What research questions you’re doing?  (No surprise here, most people are searching for COVID.)  

Videos about finding credible medical content 

Finding the right names to search for something
(Really useful for odd names like: Alison Guyot, Franklin Dixon, or the name of the  ÷ and ⌘ symbols)

Using archival news (To see what happened in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and how that might be relevant to us in 2020) 

San Francisco Examiner, Jan 20, 1919

Extramusical sounds  (What are those sounds that you hear in the background of some music?)  

Finding national anthems (Find the national anthems of Hawai'i and other state or national anthems that are NOT in the local language.  There are more than you might think!) 

Why do beans and peas move as they grow?  (Because they're thigmotropic in order to find good scaffolding. Be sure to look that one up!) 

Finding collections of online content  (Because sometimes the best way to a source is to find the collection, and then search inside of that.)  

Were there gomphotheres in Panama?  (Yes, there were. And they migrated from North to South American when the Isthmus of Panama became a thing...)  

Gomphotheres were native to North America. You might have had
one in your backyard 2.5M BCE.

Finding the latest COVID regulations  (This should be simple.  It's not. Here's how.)  

Curious state boundaries (inclusions along state borders)  (I had no idea...)  

Finding a time-lapse of wildfire growth (It's not obvious how to do this.) 

Everyday fact-checking: What do you do?  (SRS Readers search a lot!) 

Digging deeper into the story behind a photo (Contrails are complex beasts.)  

The natural history of kelp forests  (They're not doing well, but there are signs of hope!)

Urban development in the Indio/Coachella area  (A LOT of golf courses were built.)  

Who survived from the Mayflower?   (Answer: Not many...) 

The mystery of the polygonal areoles on autumn grape leaves (We didn't really find an answer... at least not yet.  Continuing to work on this.  More insights as we learn more.) 

And there were a few Extras: 

Double quotes / negative transfer (video)  (Sometimes you do NOT want to use double quotes when searching!)  

Fluff filters (Make it your reading habit to ignore fluff that's in the document. Here's how.) 

How to find the Utah monolith in the SRS way (There are people with a lot of free time...)  

Even more wildfire tracking sites (If you live in fire-prone areas, you might want to track these sites.) 

Even MORE collections (Yes!  Love collections.)  

A few Public Service Announcements: 

Started a new Search Education YouTube channel  (There are six now... more are coming.  Subscribe and stay in touch with the latest.)  

PowerSearching course now on edX  (The Advanced PowerSearching Course will be coming soon!)

3D flying in Google Maps (The most fun you can have while sitting at your desktop. No, really!)  

6 things to know about videoconferences (Big tip: Practice before you go live!) 

Looking forward to next year? 

I certainly am looking forward. The mysteries never seem to end, and since Google search is constantly changing, we'll be back here during 2021 to document the new ways you can search online.  Stay tuned!  

And leave a comment on which Challenges you liked (and which you didn't care for).  That will be useful information as we push forward into the information forest.  

Search on! 


  1. Hi Dr. Russell and Everyone! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

    I loved the Special Announcements and being on a life conference with Dr. Russell. It is a great experience.

    The 1MM are my favorites too. It is very easy to learn and re-do watching

    In the 2020 Challenges, each one provided new information and was interesting. My favorites are:

    Using archival news and finding 1918 vs 2020. I have been searching after that for the Holidays that we are living and how they managed them

    Why do beans and peas move as they grow? and Collections are also part of my favorites. I enjoy every day watching plants growing and now, I notice more these events. And collections are very helpful. Btw, yesterday tried [list of] with a movie and I got the 4 of them even when it's not a list as others we have searched

    With Using Google Trends to find COVID data, learned a lot and was a big surprise. Also allowed me later to keep looking and also find good stories with Ngram.

    Finally, I think the Big tip: Practice! is a great Search Lesson.

    Thanks, Dr. Russell for another fantastic year. And looking forward to to celebrate The 11th Anniversary of SearchReSearch

  2. I never seem to know when to pause or even give up. More practice I guess. I prefer Challenges that have a definite answer: Like the Newcastle Taxi one of a couple of years ago;) Thank you for generating all these. Even the strand jack one.

    And I appreciate all the tips and techniques you explain.

    Seasons Greetings to everyone on this project.

    jon tU

  3. Hi Dan
    Sorry for off-topic,
    But I was wondered, is there a way to search in Google for few entries of the same (!) word? For example, news that contain: "discreet" AND "discreet". In the goal of learning language: if you want to see few context examples.

    1. Sure... but you have to look for [ discrete OR discreet ] ... unless you want examples that have BOTH versions in it.

      Another example might be [ "stand on line" OR "stand in line" ] What other examples are you thinking of?