The Secrets (and Big Business) of Search Engines
"Googling" has become synonymous with searching, and those who google are often presented with thousands to millions of results. Yet research shows that people almost never go beyond the first page or two. Appearing on the first page of search engine results has become big business in the 21st century, yet users are often unaware that what they see when they search (and what they do not see) is influenced by factors like money. What makes some results appear higher in the ranking? How do companies stay on top of search engines' trade secret algorithms to alter the way their own websites are found? More importantly, what are searchers not seeing? This seminar explores the factors and stakeholders of web searching. Students will learn to be savvy finders and consumers of information, with a clearer sense of who is watching them while they search, and the motivations and practices of the companies that provide the supposedly free services on which we have become so dependent.