Feb. 2, 2011 – Let’s face it; Google is the primary search engine for most people. Google is a multi-faceted tool that provides users with much more than just a search engine. It offers alerts, calendars, and even case law. What many forget is that Google competitors also offer tools to improve your online experience. This article presents a few of the features Bing offers. Google may offer similar features, however, Bing enhancements make them noteworthy.
The first thing most people notice when launching Bing are the beautiful background images. What distinguishes it is the “hidden” information found within the image. Move your mouse or cursor around the picture and small boxes appear. Click the boxes and facts relevant to the picture appear.
I like Bing maps. In fact, Bing accurately identified my home address on its map months before Google. A nice feature found on Bing is the dynamic mapping information available to researchers via numerous applications. It is important to note that users must download a free program entitled Silverlight to take advantage of this functionality.
Applications include the ability to create a custom map to your home or business, calculate taxi fare in major cities (including Milwaukee), and locate current gas prices. There is even an application from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. that will link to the front pages of newspapers from cities throughout the United States. My favorite application is the health data app. The researcher can select a state or county and obtain birth measures, health risks, and death measures for the area. The data is gathered from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Bing’s travel interface is worth a visit. You can search for flights or hotels and compare the prices against other online travel sites. Bing’s added technology is a beneficial price prediction element and rate indicator. If, for example, you are searching for a flight to Dallas, the price predictor alerts you if the cost is likely to go down or up. Bing programmers use a variety to factors to determine this information. An explanation of these enhancements and the “science” behind them can be found on the travel help page.
Bing may have a smaller portion of the search engine market than Google, but it certainly brings something to the table. Serious online searchers should always consider running their queries in more than one search engine. Bing may be the answer. To learn more about Bing and how it works, visit the Bing table of contents.
About the author
Bev Butula is the manager of library of services at Davis & Kuelthau, Milwaukee. She is a past president of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin. Butula has written articles and spoken to numerous groups on issues such as effective Internet research, evaluation of websites, and legal research. Prior to obtaining her Master’s Degree in Library Science from UWM, Butula was a litigation paralegal.