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Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper

I decided to use “Jake Tapper” as my Google search phrase, as I am a senior this year and it was just announced that he would be this year’s commencement speaker. When I searched his name in Google, the top of the search results page showed links with images to three recent news stories about him. These were presented under the heading “Top Stories.” The first Google result under Top Stories was the link to his Wikipedia page, followed by a link to his Twitter. The next three links after that were to CNN and New York Times articles about a spat he had recently had with Kellyanne Conway.

In contrast, the top results from searching Tapper’s name in the Dartmouth College Library Catalog are links to Tapper’s shows, blogs and podcasts, followed by links to two books he has written that are in the stacks. Comparing these searches tells me that Google prioritizes social media and current events in its algorithms, and that Wikipedia and Twitter links, when available and relevant, will appear at the very top of a search. The Library, on the other hand, focuses on works that have been produced by Tapper and presents each source with stars, the number of which indicates how relevant the result is.

This emphasis of relevance over how recent a source is seems to be the main difference between the Google and Library algorithms. This makes sense to me because academic librarians often help support and collect the scholarly work of an institution’s faculty. I’m not surprised then that the more major projects or outputs of Tapper’s career, rather than a recent spat he had with someone in the media, are what the Catalog algorithm features more.

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