My father remarked to me that whilst having a flutter in his local betting shop he complained to a friend about his about a niggling back pain. His friend commented “Jus tek some cow foot man, it good fi yu back”. So my father, not being one not to try something new, the next morning, went to the butchers and purchased a portion of the famed Jamaican delicacy. And guess what? Yes that’s right (placebo effect perhaps) his back pain was relieved.
For those a little more tech savvy, you might “Google” the therapeutic effects of “cow foot” which I kid you not you can read about here http://swobidu.info/tag/cow-foot/
Now, his complaint or cry for help was his way of consciously or subconsciously searching for an answer to his back problem. The keyword here is ‘search’ and it is this word I’d like to discuss in more detail.
Before the search engines allowed us to search at will and return results in fractions of a second what did we (for the purpose of this article ‘we’ refers to the layman) do before?
- Go to the library – Takes more than a fraction of a second and the information even though comprehensive is still limited in comparison to the “net”
- Ask friends or family – Well you took your chances here but it’s what we did!
- Radio and TV – Come on…how many people learned to count watching Sesame Street or about wildlife from a documentary! Downside is that we’re limited to scheduled programs and information certainly wasn’t on demand
- Magazines and newspapers – This (sadly) dying medium kept adults educated and up-to-date (does anyone still subscribe to Readers Digest?)
Of course the problem here is that none of the above mediums allowed us to search on demand. In reality we browsed until we saw something that caught our interest or that related to a topic we’ve been searching for previously. Today however we take for granted the access we have to information about ANYTHING. I stress this because be it businesses, entrepreneurship, parenting, careers, the young and old still hold close challenges which are potentially solved by becoming better informed.
Therefore a new skill is required today and that is ‘search-ability’. I mean, what’s the point of having access to billions of web pages from your laptop, desktop, iPad or mobile device if you don’t use it to solve problems or improve the quality of your life?
It would appear that the ease of access has made us complacent; the psychology which supports the behaviour we exhibit in wanting something so bad that when we eventually get it – we no longer want it, or under use it.
Granted, the issue still exists that we search for stuff and don’t get the results we’re actually looking for. This problem has many a search engine start up tinkering away developing a solution. But until then perhaps we need to use the tools we do have more effectively.
Have a read of this web-page and you’re ability to search for stuff in Google will have you jumping for joy (or not) http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=136861
- WolframAlpha is a “computational knowledge engine” which answers questions for you instead of providing you with a page full of potentially useless results.
- For those of us more visually inclined Qwiki.com provides some quite nifty results in image and video instead of the more wordy ‘traditional’ search engines we’re all used to.
- So will increasing your ‘search-ability’ skills land you a new job, help you to find the meaning of life, find a life partner, start a business or make more money? (Perhaps) YES!
And the point here is that even just 10 to 15 years ago we didn’t have the opportunity to satisfy that hunger we’ve always had since the dark ages to grab information anytime, anywhere at the blink of an eye to solve the most basic or the most complex of human challenges – Or even to relieve your back pain.
Take advantage dear reader, we’re at a point in time many would have wished to be a part of.
Don’t miss it.