COLLEGE PARK – Students and faculty at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism had opportunities this week to learn about the most effective uses of Google search from one of its chief architects, Dan Russell, Google’s Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness.
During the week, Russell conducted a morning-long workshop for faculty and held a second morning-long workshop for 25 student journalists from the college’s Capital News Service reporting program.
“I use search engine sites like Google daily, but Dan’s workshop taught me advanced methods to find information that may be hard to find,” said Merrill graduate student and Capital News Service reporter Tim Ebner. “By using advanced methods of search, like reverse dictionary look-up, image analysis and geo-location and tagging, the workshop taught me skills that can be put to use immediately in the newsroom.”
Russell also led a smaller, week-long workshop on ethnographic research — using a method he employs to understand how people search the web — for 10 students from Merrill, the iSchool, the College of Education and the Department of American Studies.
Russell’s week at Merrill also included an interactive workshop Thursday for students, faculty and staff on assessing the credibility of information found on the web. He concluded the week Friday with a brainstorming session with faculty.
“Dan is an evangelist for ‘search literacy’ – that is, for the lifelong need to be aware both of the information resources available to us and the most effective ways to tap them, “ said Merrill Associate Professor Ira Chinoy, who invited Russell to the college and organized the week of activities.
“In addition to be being a first-rate researcher, Dan is a wonderful teacher. He is helping us find the best ways to search the web, and he is also engaging with us in a conversation about strategies for remaining up-to-speed on evolving search capabilities,” Chinoy said.
Russell’s week in College Park stems from previous trips to campus, including his role last fall as a “visiting future-ist” helping to launch the new Future of Information Alliance (FIA) at the university.
The FIA is a campus-wide initiative co-directed by Chinoy and iSchool Associate Dean Allison Druin. During his visit this week, Russell also met with leaders of digital initiatives at two of the FIA’s 11 “founding partners” — the National Archives and the Library of Congress. He also met with faculty and grad students from several other colleges conducting search-related research.