Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why You Never Trust the Elusive Tree Octopus!

            Last week in History class, we were taught how to use online resources appropriately. This included how to tell a genuine website from a fake one, and how to properly use a search engine. There are many details to consider when doing research, and to get the best results one must take them all into consideration.  

            In order to improve upon our search engine-using skills, the class was assigned to complete an activity called A Google a Day, which can be found here: http://agoogleaday.com/#game=started. A Google a Day is a challenge that Google puts out on a daily basis in which one is given a question and they must answer it by using Google search. An example of a question is “The Indian river basin that includes approximately 25% of the country's area is bound by what mountain range to the south?” The process of discovering the answer was both fun and frustrating at times. The fun part was finally being rewarded with a correct answer, but the frustrating part is not being given instant gratification with the answer, and having to actually work for it. During this process, I learned a lot more about how to effectively search Google, such as using the “-word” tool. For example, if you wanted to research Homer’s The Iliad, but not want anything from The Simpsons coming up in the search results, you would search “Homer – Simpsons” to eliminate any Simpsons – related search results. Going along with the theme of unwanted search results, there are several things one must look for in a website to see whether or not it is genuine; accuracy, authenticity, and reliability. To know if something is accurate, one should always compare its information with the information of something that is known to be genuine, perhaps a college website. In order to make sure that a website is authentic, make sure that its information is cited and not plagiarized. It is always a good idea to make sure that someone actually took the time and effort to create something. It shows that they care about their topic and also know what they’re talking about. To know if something is reliable or not, a good indicator is the ending of the website URL. If the URL finishes with “.gov” of “.edu”, the website is more than likely reliable. If not, it is a good idea to be cautious about what may lay in store. The information could be completely inaccurate. One such website is for “The Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus”, which can be found here: http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/. This website is clearly not genuine just from looking at the title, and it includes many other flaws which make one think that it is fake. For example, the websites cover photo is clearly a photo shopped octopus in a tree.

            After learning about the many details that go into using a search engine and finding out whether or not a website is genuine, I feel much better about finding genuine information, and I hope you have found this enlightening as well.
The so-called "Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus"

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