how do we fi[x this mess]

This week in DITA we talked about relational databases and information retrieval and did several exercises in information retrieval. My title is just me quoting a result I had after having a bit of fun with Google’s autocorrect. I like questions, I like the sense of innocent curiosity you get from the ones searched. You really can’t find fault with even the most ridiculous of questions because in the end it is a genuine concern or curiosity a person has about the world. The main issue is how to find or provide the answers to them.

It’s interesting to see how far we’ve developed the search techniques used to search through databases despite the growing amount of information there is on the Web daily. From using structured queries to being able to input natural language in searches to find items. I think it makes its simpler and easier for most people to use unstructured queries without having to remember the specific search operators needed to find relevant answers.

However reflecting to a lab exercise we did previously where we evaluate websites what I found dissatisfying about many of the websites was how they relied on Google search to find particular pages or information on the website. In my opinion the problem with that is that without advanced search tools or even a basic understanding of search operators, it makes it difficult to filter through search results to find the exact page you need, and I feel that most people, regardless of how often they use Google, are unware of the latter.

I started wondering if there is a way to integrate search operators into people’s normal practices when entering queries, it’s something that I think most students now study when they’re young but never really continued to practice for some reason. I think it could be partially the fact that search operators, well, doesn’t come as naturally as simply inputting unstructured queries into a search.  Furthermore, as much as I enjoyed using search operators, when I did the exercise I find that Google’s information retrieval has adapted so well to natural language that you can find pretty relevant answers for many general questions.

Which brings to question how far could search engines improve the quality of information retrieval? Is it up to technology to advance at this point or for people to improve their own technical knowledge to be able to use the full potential of these information retrieval tools?

Just for my own amusement, I’ve decided to end this page with the rest of my results in google:

c4f7f868621d3817cfd1d740c08d8705(Is it charming enough to go on Google Poetics??)