Searching for life
In his ‘Are search engines facing extinction?‘ article, Ian Hendry questions the usefulness of the traditional search engine, arguing:
“If I search for a friend or a specific person, why do I need 714,000 responses with irrelevant content or many multiple entries referring only fleetingly to the person I am trying to find? Why would I not go to Facebook or LinkedIn…instead?”
The point is debated further by Dr Harry Chen who suggests that: “the Web is gradually becoming a collection of independent islands of information (YouTube of videos, Facebook of people, Wikipedia of facts, etc.)”
I think that both have a point, and although Chen attempts to dissect the single entry into more disparate channels, I’d counter that the ‘single entry’ approach can visit each of his suggested ‘islands’. For example, unless specified otherwise, Google will happily return personal entries from social networking sites such as Bebo and Facebook; in fact, I would even go so far as to say I’ve had to restrict Bebo from appearing in my search results. In the likes of Google Maps, supplementary information has recently been added to queries, such as geotagged photographs that correspond to the location being searched for. Chen is right in that the use of search plug-ins in Firefox are extremely useful – being able to search within the likes of Wikipedia or Amazon without going there first – but only if you think it’s likely that whatever you are looking for is already there. If you are querying the very existence or availability of something, it has to be a traditional search engine every time.
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