As I have been thinking of reblogger and it’s uniqueness it appeared to me that we need to make a clear cut between the terms search and explore. Reblogger is an exploring tool, everyone else is doing the searching. So, to start this out, here are the definitions from wikipedia.
- search definition : Searching is the act of trying to find something or someone. One can distinguish between two forms of search. One may search for something that is known to exist, with the intent to locate it, and one may search for something whose existence is uncertain in order to ascertain whether it exists or not.
- exploration definition : Exploration is the act of searching or traveling for the purpose of discovery, e.g. of unknown regions, including space (space exploration), or oil, gas, coal, ores, caves, water (also known as prospecting), or information.
Exploration is the attempt to develop an initial, rough understanding of some phenomenon.
So, to be able to search we need to know “who” or “what” are we looking for, regardless of does it exist or not. With exploring, we are going to find what that “who” or “what” may be.
Let’s examing following sites and what are they offering :
To do this, we’ll use a simple case scenario, we need to write a essay on “inflation”. The crucial point here is that, we are not looking for a particular information (we are not SEARCHING), but we are trying to get “rough understanding” as wikipedia puts it. If this “rough understanding” is up-to-date at the same time, then we are on our way!
Obviously, I type “inflation” at google, and among 5-6 inflation calculators, I’ve got a wikipedia link, some statistics, few Federal Reserves links and a link to nice essay about “inflation for beginners”. Now I’ve just caught my breath thinking this will be helpful. Well, it almost was, until I found a paragraph describing how atrology can be used to guess the inflation rate?!? So what’s missing here? Relevancy! Google is looking for keywords, which is fine if I was looking for let’s say inflation rate in Botswana (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=inflation+rate+in+Botswana&btnG=Search), but the truth is I had no idea what was I looking really for. I was exploring.
Let’s try with technorati. Typing the “inflation” in basic search return bunch of posts on “inflation”, which was cool. Then I’ve choosed to look only in blogs about “economy”, since I’m interested in scientific perspective of inflation (for the moment being!!!). So, that worked out well… with few more refinments (remove posts with Alan Greenspan… etc).
So, the problems I had with Technorati are following :
1. I’d had to go through way too many things to find the posts I’m looking for.
2. I’d like much more specified tagging structure… if inflation is a keyword (rb terms), I’d like to see following search terms (rb terms) : monetary theory, neo-keynesian theory, phillips curve, hyperinflation, price controls, deflation… etc. That would be a nice starting point.
3. I really didn’t want to read all posts… my ideal picture here would be : ok, I have posts on “inflation”, I see the search terms and look them up at wikipedia, then I dig deeper looking for “phillips curve” for example.
4. No history! Once when I find a blog that is informative as well as relevant I want to keep up with it. In Europe, at the end of college every student has to write a final paper which needs to be usually 200-300 pages long. It takes about a year to write that, so I want to learn about inflation on a more permanent basis. I also want to keep up with some other things like sport, movies etc. and I DEFINETLY have no desire to add 300 bookmarks to firefox and be bombed with irrelvant information.
5. it would be really nice to see what blogs is reading and how is filtering posts economics professor from sweeden that wrote 3 books on inflation!!! At technorati, I see the aggregation of masses, and I presume most of them are not really the inflation experts.
With del.icio.us I had the very same problems as with the technorati with the addition that I could not have look for inflation among the economics blogs… so I’ve got a lot of posts with “inflated” fame, self-assesment, buildings…. etc. Then I figured out that del.icio.us has no posts and that it’s actually a bookmark thing (now you all say duuuh!), so that pretty much ruled it out as a exploration tool, because I knew way too little about any of the posts to decide on their relevancy…
It’s a technology orientated site so no tests could be done, but in general there is way too many people deciding on one thing, so it is useless unless one is trying to figure out “what’s hot” at the moment. Some good concepts though.