In an age of functionally infinite information, some useful and some harmful, it is critical to sift. Understanding how to pick knowledge out of the internet is more valuable than retaining great amounts of knowledge locally/in memory. The problem is that no computer tools really offer a fun, powerful and expandable system for sorting or organizing information. Search engines were a big advancement, but their closed system based on their own prioritization even supposedly on behalf of other people’s measured interests feels like an ancient approach to me.
Surely the best tool of conquering the internet in a productive positive journey must involve a very serious wrestling with the organization and ordering of that information. I’m not talking about simple search engine customization, but breaking search engines into components of every possible or measurable variable including new ones added and calculated by any person or group.
I guess this isn’t too mind bending of a declaration, but it is important. We need to focus on getting tools to the average user where they can interact graphically with the set of all possible search engine customizations and compare the set of all possible results from all possible combinations.
For anyone thinking this isn’t realistic- we already do this. Just in a manual way, we search a couple terms look at the results, maybe browse a couple sites then often times change search terms. But search terms are a very imperfect medium for communicating what we are looking for to the computer.
It’s impressive it works as well as it does, but we should be much more interested in reexamining this relatively ancient interface. Typing in keywords and sifting through matches ranking by variables outside our control and some outside our understanding is not the end all for information collection.