October 5, 2009

When Search Isn’t Good Enough

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:15 pm

Search is highly overrated.

I have a serious problem. As I build presentations I get a clear vision of an idea or concept I want to discuss and I immediately want to visualize it. For better or worse, I gain and make meaning with visuals. To that end I’ve continued to create slides that I reuse and share with others. Fortunately others have shared my passion and created a nice set that others are free to use.

Today’s vision was around filtering. Not that kind of filtering but the kind I’ve discussed here. On more than one occasion, I’ve quoted Clay Shirky’s quote about filter failure. It has been begging to be visualized, at least for me. So I head over to flickr and realize that my vision lacked easily searchable terms. I had envisioned a larger quantity of some item with one item standing out. I tried several search terms and phrases but didn’t find what I wanted.

I turned to twitter.

After this initial request:

Over the next 30 minutes I recieved 20 various image suggestions and 4 other ideas of how to create one. Here they are:

@robletcher offered these two:



@triareanews suggested these three:




Here’s four from @tuchodi





@bookminder responded to my "needle in the haystack" concept



I nearly went with this one from @dlsio4 who apparently thought of something he had and took the picture on the spot


@njtechteacher offered to take a photo of a pile of legos but did suggest this one


In the end, Sean Nash gave me six to choose from:




















































It was that last one that I chose. I could have picked any of the ones offered me and I’m sure you might have chosen differently. The point is that sometimes search doesn’t get it done. Google only goes so far. I needed people to help me sort out my ideas and provide inspiration to reach a satisfying conclusion. I feel badly for folks who don’t have this resource.

Oh by the way, here’s the final product.