It’s trivial, but it’s making an important point

I’ve gained a new habit.  It’s ok, this one’s fine to share – I’ve taken to visiting Microsoft’s Bing just to have a look at the daily picture.

In addition to the scenic photo, you can click underneath and within the picture to get pop-up snippets of information about it, which also give you the option to click onwards for further information.

Perhaps it’s trivial, little more than window-dressing, but to me this pleasant offering is more than that.  It is an illustration of the ongoing struggle to create something new for the search engine to do.

To me it really does seem to be a bit of a struggle, because despite the myriad ways we have available to us by which to search for the information we want, in truth, the effectiveness and success of any search is still almost completely dependent on the skills of searcher.

Call it what you will: “information literacy” or being search-savvy, but it amounts to the same thing.  If you don’t use the right keywords, or don’t know where best to start your search, or  how to evaluate the results you are given, it is unlikely that you’ll be very happy with your findings.  Unless perhaps, you have hours and hours to spend trawling or unless – of course – you’re lucky.

And yes, there is an element of luck behind many a successful search.  Any search professional worth their salt should be humble enough to admit that.  I think Google understands this too, why else would they have their  “I’m feeling lucky” button?

Semantic searching, fuzzy logic, Bayesian analysis, natural language, voice, images and – my goodness – “ambient findability” have all entered the fray, but for the time being it still boils down to the same requirement:

Searcher know thy searching
It takes time to learn to search well, and you then need to continue teaching yourself.

This entry was posted in Information literacy, Psychology of search, Search engines and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s