Friday, December 10, 2010

Not Googlable

Where do you turn when you have a question? It depends, of course, on the problem at hand, but increasingly we have come to rely on web to support our daily information needs. The problem is that search engines rarely capture the context of users.

Even skilled searchers sometimes struggle trying to find the information they're looking for. When that happens, searchers often try a number of different queries, they get frustrated, and finally, they give up and decide to find the information using social tactics.

There are many social tactics available at hand for users when they frustrated

Privately Asking: targeting specific friends or colleagues to ask for help (e.g., over email, IM, Phone). People rely on a personal network of friends and colleagues to get trusted information; help filter and interpret information; and get referrals to other people. Though personal networks are invaluable for getting quick answers, they aren’t always sufficiently large or diverse to reach everyone directly who has the right information.

Public Asking: posting a question in a public venue, typically on social network (e.g., Twitter, Facebook).

Searching:  Searching over repositories of social data (e.g., Yahoo! Answers).

Targeting individuals can be useful if they are knowledgeable and available to respond. Public asking distributes a question over a wide (diverse) audience, theoretically increasing the likelihood of reaching an individual with the appropriate knowledge and availability. Searching, of course, could provide ample information (with large databases), but is limited to the content already present in the database.

Using these tactics in combination may lead to a more productive search.

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