Can we find what we seek?

How do you search for information? Is one search on Google enough to satisfy what you seek? How do you filter, qualify, and scan information?

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I devoured the book Ambient Findability in a single reading. The author Peter Morville discusses searching, findability, and aboutness.

Our ability to find relevant information gets harder as the quantity of websites accelerates and media options expand. Morville writes that “transmedia information literacy is a core life skill.” You need to be good at seeking.

And if you can’t filter and scan, you can get lost in irrelevant information. A Google search on “software testing” returns 233,000,000 hits. How can we find relevant credible information?

Findability is defined as the quality of being easy to locate. Aboutness? Think tags, keywords, labels and relevancy. Aboutness matters when the only results you have time to read are the search results that rise to the top.

But what information rises to the top? Morville makes a point when he says there is a “potential danger of popularity being substituted for credibility.” How often do we grab the first page of results and run with it? Have we stopped checking the credibility of what rises to the top? Think Digg, Technorati. It’s fun to see what’s popular but do we stop there? Or do we dig for what we need? Do we get distracted by what’s at the top? Or distracted elsewhere on our journey?

Add complexity to the topic and you hit what Morville calls “pluralistic aboutness.” What happens when the information we seek can be labeled in multiple ways? What if one keyword doesn’t address the entity of the topic?

What does it take to “satisfice” our need? (This is the first use of the term satisfice I’ve seen outside of James Bach’s company name.)

With the quantity of information available, it is easy to become lost. And Morville’s point is that what we find influences what we do and who we become.

I recommend looking at Johnny Long’s work on google searching to improve search skills.

And remaining mindful in what you seek. And conscience from where you gather.

I credit Morville for my blog title: can we find what we seek?

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