From The Trenches… Research For Writers & Authors: Part I, Understanding The World Wide Web.

Dual CoreHere to Help

Understanding the World Wide Web¹

The quest for the holy grail of information!

Every website has an address, called an URL (uniform resource locator). These URL’s follow a fixed pattern and order. They become specific to accommodate more complex websites that contain more information.

First we’ll examine my own web address here at SM CADMAN:

https:// – Stands for “hypertext transfer protocol”. This provides access to this website. Most times within our current framework of the internet now, it’s not always necessary to provide this protocol of “https://”, often just using “www.” with the website address is sufficient. “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.”²

www. – The server name, this stands for: World Wide Web.

.smcadman – The domain name.

.wordpress – The domain name where the website/blog is hosted and maintained.

.com – The domain type.

If we are to click on one of the pages from the site’s categories About a story”, we will see this in our internet browser:

The last part of this URL, /about-2/ is referred to as the directory path.

Other types of Internet resources have their own identifying protocols such as:

(The majority of these protocols you may never even have to know or use!)

telnet:// – Usually used to access another computers’ login screen.

news:// – Provides access to a newsgroup.

ftp:// – Stands for: “file transfer protocol” and provides access to files.

file:// – Gives access to a specific file.

Domain types:

.com = Commercial.

.blog = Blog domain; often attached to a website or can stand alone.

.biz = A business. It can be used with any website. No specifications are required. Basically anyone can set-up shop online so Caveat Emptor, Buyer beware!

.info = Information. But can be used with any website. No specifications are required. Same Latin phrase may apply here also😉

.edu = Usually an accredited academic educational institution, most notably used within the USA.

.org = Organization, usually non-profit.

.net = Networking.

.gov = Government.

.mil = Military (Only in the U.S.)

.ca = Our very own domain type from websites that originate from Canada.

.uk = Domain type from the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

.au = Australia

.museum = A verified museum.

.mobi = A mobile compliant website, used for mobile devices such as: iPads, Tablets, Smartphones and even some Netbooks; along with some Kindle and Kobo readers now.

A very thorough list of top-level Internet domains may be found here:

The re-Search Continues!

Using Boolean Operators

Using Boolean Operators can really aid you in being able to tell whichever search engine you use, exactly what you’re looking for. This can save a lot of time and frustration when you want to find something specific.

Using these operators involves inserting certain words into your search to allow you to communicate with the search engine you’re using. Using these operators will help you to locate only the information you need.

And”, “or” and “not” are used to save you from weeding through a huge amount of hits that your search engine may hityou with. It has the ability to narrow in on the information you want and discard what isn’t important to your research.

For example, I need to look up a poem by Dylan Thomas, and the poem I’m looking for is a very specific one it’s, Do not go gentle into that good night.

So I could do this search:

Dylan Thomas AND Do not go gentle into that good night

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2)

Or I could know exactly what it is I want by specifying what I don’t want the search engine to return to me:

Dylan Thomas NOT Biography

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2)

This tells the search engine that I need information about Dylan Thomas but what I don’t want to receive back are search engine hits containing his biography, maybe I would like to just find his work.

Perhaps I’m looking for a result that contains either or any of those words, and something less specific:

Dylan Thomas OR Do not go gentle into that good night OR Biography

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2) (Keywords 3)

To simplify things even further and to make it even easier we can type in specific keywords, or phrases within quotation marks, by using them as a Proximity Locator, like this:

“Dylan Thomas”

“Do not go gentle into that good night”

We may even specify further by doing this:

“Dylan Thomas” AND “Do not go gentle into that good night”

You may also try this to get exactly what you’re looking for:

“Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night”

With or without the colon and you may reach the same results from the search engine (depending on the engine you use).

If we don’t have time to use AND or NOT we can really simplify what we mean when communicating with our search engine by using these Boolean Operators:

+Dylan Thomas Biography

We can use + (a plus/addition sign) to tell the search engine what we want to locate. Conversely, we may tell the search engine what we don’t want to find by using a – (a minus/negative sign), and just like how we use positive and negative integers, we can specify exactly what we’re trying figure out then find what we’re looking for.

You can even add a Boolean Operator at the end of a string of letters to return several search engine hits back on what you’re looking for by adding a wildcard, an * (asterisk) at the end of the word, letters or phrase.

Do not go gentle*

You may do that, if perhaps you’ve forgotten Dylan Thomas’ title of his poem – it will pull all of the results from that string of words to find you the title and his poetic masterpiece!

A list of popular search engines and websites:

The Fort Knox’s of Internet Gold!

The Barrie Public Library

Our very own Barrie Public Library website contains access to many resources, I encourage everyone to take the time and explore the website thoroughly. It has many valuable links to local and worldly information; it even provides access to your Barrie Public Library account where you can reserve and even download in some instances: books, e-books, other media, and even audio books. All resources are freely available to borrow for the residents of Barrie, and it’s connected with the Painswick Library and with many other libraries in our region too. To access some of these features you will need your library card to input your membership account ID number, and if you haven’t already created a login and password you will have to do that also.


Dealing with the mightiest beast on the Internet…


For information on this search engine and what it can do for you, check out this link:


Google is an especially friendly search engine for using Boolean Operators to narrow down your results or hits. Plus, it features the “I’m feeling lucky” button if you really want to play Russian roulette with your internet searches. It has some really interesting quirks built into its search engine input that can even allow you to solve math equations. Some other Google offerings include viewing their website (and even other websites!) in various odd forms of dialect, such asPirate, aaaRR!

For a complete list of Google Hoaxes and Easter Egg Hunts, check out this page:


Yodeling all the way to search results!


Yahoo! Has an easy to use internet search engine but rarely is it able to narrow down to precise results when you’re using Boolean Operators. When you’re looking for something quite specific it can often return a huge amount of hits on your searches that have nothing to do with what you’re actually looking for. In the late ‘90’s it was one of the most popular search engines to use but has now evolved into a more user friendly, less specific result search engine. It’s great for popular information such as general news, entertainment and shopping but for the meatier stores of information, it doesn’t fare as well as Google.


The quick look-up that leads you everywhere!

Is an excellent place to begin a search for quick, convenient and free information. I must stress that if you’re looking for academic information and/or research that you will have to cite, then this accessible encyclopedia will not be as useful but it can point you in the right direction as to where to find that information.

It doesn’t contain any academic or research journals although it does cite some of its articles from publicly available academic resources and journals. Articles will often cite various well-known newspapers, articles and magazines online. It strives to accurately cite each article and each piece of information it presents but because it’s a free encyclopedic resource, registered users contribute to the entire volume of information that it contains: in this respect, it’s a very human encyclopedia that translates to being both brilliant and sometimes prone to error with the information it contains!


A very private place, shh!

Ixquick is touts itself as one of the most private search engines and returns search hits back that are rated with a star system to eliminate duplicate search results. This search engine again is not especially friendly to the use of Boolean Operators but it does provide a narrower return of search results to locate exactly what you’re looking for.

We’re Canadian, eh! is a branch of the CanWest Global media group; it provides Canadian media content and issues within a Canadian context here and abroad.

A precise slice of Canuck!

The Canadian Broadcasting Company (Corporation) media website for news, art, radio, television and movies, is all contained here. You can listen, watch and look-up information and various media content that’s made by the CBC. It’s also a fairly decent and precise resource for academic information regarding Canadian media and production.

Words? Why doth thou protest?! is an easy, free and accessible way to look up words, both synonyms and antonyms are provided – This website even contains a thesaurus. It has a treasure trove of flash cards for learning new words, testing your knowledge of words, and even word games to play to enhance your learning experience. And if that wasn’t enough, they also have these word games and flash cards in foreign languages as well, along with other popular subjects!


Where to find information within the portals of online academic institutions, government websites and university/college writing labs. With a few added extras: respected research journals and their websites.

  • Remember: Information and knowledge is [now] free, how you find and use it is up to you.


References & Citations:

¹Hackman, Grant Thomson Nelson Guide to Web Research, 2007-2008 ed. University of New Brunswick at Saint John, 2007-2008. Toronto: Thomson Nelson P, Print.

²What is HTTPS?, Comodo Labs CA.