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Deep Web: Good or Bad?

Posted by on in Deep Web
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‘Deep’, ‘Dark’, ‘Hidden’, ‘Invisible’. The words commonly used to describe the ‘deep web’. When I first heard of the ‘deep web’, it sounded like a very mysterious creation. Like the Universe. The very words that people use to describe it seem to denote a negative, secretive air about the deep web. Yet the question that has always been on my mind, is whether this ‘deep web’ really a bad place? Isn’t there any good to be found in it?


To find an answer, I did my own searching on the net. What did I find? A plethora of resources – blog articles, forums, magazine articles, white papers, videos- that talk of the mysterious deep web. But each source seems to be skewed towards its own perception – either they talk about only the bad, the good or a little bit of both!


‘Deep web’ as many would call it, refers to information that is inaccessible to conventional search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. To give a more ‘technical’ explanation, the web crawlers or the spiders and bots used by search engines to index pages in the World Wide Web or the surface web, do not capture what lies in the deep web. Often, authors compare this to ‘dragging a net across the surface of the ocean’ while missing what’s in the deep ocean since it is not reachable by the fishing nets. Even the popular term, ‘Invisible web’ is considered as a misnomer, with the problem not being about ‘invisible’ information but information that is not bot indexed by search engines.


Apparently, the size of the deep web is about 400-500 times larger than the surface web and the general search engines are only searching 20% of the web and miss out 80% of the content. So no doubt, the deep web is humongous!


Two sides of the coin: Dark or Sunny


So what’s in this depth? Well, as the saying goes “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”


In the same way, what we find in the deep web will depend on what we look for. If we look for anything illegal, surely enough, we’ll find it there!


Deep web seems to be notorious for illegal activities such as drugs, stolen credit cards, child pornography, and pirated videos. Not to forget, ‘TOR’, a software known as ‘The Onion Router’ that maintain anonymity and thus anyone has the freedom to engage in web activity without being traced. And then there is ‘Silk road’, the online market place or the eBay of the deep web, apparently where you can purchase anything from weaponry to hiring an assassin!


Again, this is just a glimpse of the darker side as I see through my minds lens, when skimming just a few of the many sources on the internet. The actual reality, I will leave it to my imagination…


On the sunny side, the deep web presents a wealth of valuable information. It seems that there is a massive amount of educational resources, particularly high quality, authoritative databases in the deep web. One article stated that ‘according to a report 54% of the websites in the deep web are databases.’ Amongst them, is information maintained by academic institutions such as academic journals, databases accessed through intranet and government documents that can be extremely useful for researchers.


Some of the deep web resources include publicly accessible web directories and portals such as;

  • CompletePlanet: This searches more than 70,000 databases and specialty search engines.
  • INFORMINE: This is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.
  • PubMed: A free resource developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine® (NLM), PubMed comprises more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
  • Infoplease: A free, authoritative, and respected reference for Internet users provides a comprehensive encyclopedia, almanac, atlas, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • The Virtual Library: One of the oldest databases of information available on the web, this site allows you to search by keyword or category.

Then, there are also the endless list of specialty search engines that look for information where most typical search engines cannot. Deep Dyve, Google scholar, IncyWincy are few popular options.


Look only for the good


Anyone who is a serious information seeker out there, make use of the valuable information available in the deep web. Try various search engines and the web portals to look for information you need. Be patient. Take your time. Reach the unreachable.


But don’t forget, that there is a darker side too.


My advice to you… Go explore but be safe!


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