held its first scheduled and open course in advanced online research in May. Freelance journalist Liisa Rohumaa was there. We asked her for a review of the course content.

Zodiac, the new thriller about the West Coast serial killer who managed to elude cops and reporters for decades, will make journalists scream for all the wrong reasons.

If only the geeky guy from the San Francisco Chronicle had been able to use the internet then it wouldn't have taken years to decode his macabre messages, track his associates and nail his ID. That's what we would like to believe, but the idea that we can Google a serial killer is a little too far-fetched even by Hollywood standards - or is it?

Investigative techniques have evolved since the days of the Zodiac and the main driver in the last 10 years has been the web, a mine of information over which Google only scrapes the surface.

The recent Channel 4 News scoop about junior doctors' personal details being exposed online has only piqued the interest of  journalists like myself about sifting the web for stories. And according to Colin Meek, who runs a masterclass in advanced online research, if you can tap into the 'invisible web' that search engines cannot see "you will find gold mines".

Meek's one-day course attracts journalists, researchers and analysts keen to hone their skills in precision surfing, searching the invisible web, finding people and finding out about people, accessing archives, searching for future events, and what he calls "digging deeper."

Of  course, there's the argument that if you are web savvy you will get what you want - in the end. But what if you don't have the time? And what if an individual, company or government is actively obstructing your efforts?

Meek, a journalist and researcher who has investigated internet filtering products (and is a consulting editor for, shows you how to view documents, html pages and whole site directories using a number of methods including golden bullet search strings.

The course is entirely hands-on and comes with a list of support materials in print and online - so no need to constantly scribble down tips.

It's a day of surfing and practising what Meek teaches. It is fun and revelatory and even if you have worked on a website before like myself ( or teach and research as I do now this course highlights there is always a new portal of learning when it comes to the web.

Beware "googledorks" (website owners who litter the web with stuff they think we can’t see). We can see you.

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