Using a Search Engine – example

Warning: things move fast on the Net. The page described today may not be there tomorrow – or may not work in the same way! The specific example pages that were found in the searches described below will probably have changed or disappeared by now. But you can follow the basic format and find your own.

Richard Broke described a typical search using the search engine at Lycos ( “There are remarkable amounts of free information on the Internet. I looked up the Spanish Civil War in Lycos (in my view the best search engine on the Net). It came up with (inter alia):

Laurence A. Moore started with Yahoo (using it as a search engine rather than a directory):

“First, I went to and ran a search for Spanish Civil War

“Then I went down to the bottom of Yahoo’s home page where there are several other search-engine links, and ran a search with Lycos.

“Those two searches pulled several interesting items, and each had links to other sites. The most interesting site from this quick search was

“If I’d really been doing research on the Spanish Civil War, I would have followed the links, and also used the other search engines.”

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Searching Usenet – examples

Writers Sal Towse and Marty Fouts used DejaNews, and Alta Vista, in quite a sophisticated way to search a very specific question: what style of calligraphy was used to write the journal entries in Myst and Riven (they are computer games).

Note: Usenet has now been taken over by Google Groups which includes Google’s own groups as well as the vast number of original (and much more useful!) Usenet discussion groups.

Sal went to Deja News’ interest finder and entered “fonts”. Result: 99% chance in the Newsgroup comp.fonts (talks about “fonts”). Sal’s comment: duh!

She then conducted a Deja News quick search on “riven” restricting it to comp.fonts. Result: one hit, a posting with the subject: “Riven Font” which read, “If you’re looking for the unusual font used for the handwritten-looking text in many of the documents in Riven as well as in the in-store displays, you can find it online at . Look around for the Fiorenza font — there’s even a shareware version.”

Sal: Yowzaaa! Is Deja News cool or what?

Marty added the following rider, though:

Deja News is cool, and finding that the font name is Fiorenza is probably the answer to the intended question.

However, for those interested in calligraphy and typography, the question was about “style of calligraphy,” which requires a slightly different answer. “Fiorenza” is the name of a typeface designed to give a calligraphic appearance. Most typefaces are named by or after their designer, so this one appears to be named by someone interested in Florence, hinting that the calligraphic style might be Florentine.

As Sal has pointed out, quite a few sites have the Fiorenza font. A quick check with Alta Vista for “+Fiorenza +calligraphy” turns up where we are told of

…the Renaissance calligraphy shown in Fiorenza,… (which, along with firing up my copy of Riven and comparing the first book’s calligraphy to a calligraphy sample book suggests to me that an answer to the original question might be)

Riven uses a computer font called “Fiorenza” that is available from several sites, including one found by Sal Towse:

From the comment mentioned above and a visual inspection of the font, I would guess that Fiorenza is based on an Italian monastic calligraphic style that is full serif with a 40 degree nib angle(? – I didn’t measure,) rounded uncils, and concave downstrokes.

If you want to know in more detail, you should check a good art supply store, book store or your local library for books that will contain samples of calligraphy from the time of the Renaissance. You might also look into typography books, one of which may give you the history of “Fiorenza,” if it is based on an existing typeface, rather than being generated entirely for computer use.

Other possibilities: do a more detailed inspection of the results of the Alta Vista search. Post the question in comp.fonts. Check to see if there is a calligraphy related newsgroup, and if so, post there. The site I found has quite a few links, including one to “The Society for Italic Handwriting” which may be a good source of info.

I’ve included this at length because it’s an instructive illustration of the many ways there are many ways of skinning a cyber-cat, and of the importance of asking the right question in order to get the right answer, and also that sometimes answers found on the Net will send you to different parts of the Net or even resources outside the Net altogether.

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