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On the subject of search

A friend and former co-worker posted a note on Computer Search vs. Web Search and then asked for feedback.

His main thread was that searching for documents on your computer versus searching for knowledge of a topic was different enough that a single integrated tool like Google desktop wasn’t effective for both cases. Go read his entry for his reasons and to make sure I’m not missing the main point. I certainly could be.

Here’s my feedback (tweaked a bit for better context in this entry):

Known item (document, e-mail, etc…) search vs. unknown topic/keyword/concept searching are certainly different beasts. Unfortunately, or fortunately, when I’ve been searching lately they’ve become a blurred line for me. Google desktop search helps.

I save lots of documents (pdfs, doc, html) from the web that I *might* have skimmed very quickly and dumped on my drive for future/later viewing. I can’t tell you how many times desktop integration with the regular Google has informed me that the “knowledge” I was searching for is right on my own hard drive (or even funnier when I find my own weblog contains the answer).

I also tend not to remember the contexts which I might have first glanced at some bit of info, but with google desktop I don’t have to. It’s much better than any built in OS search and even if I did remember that something I was looking for was in a previous e-mail, I’d still hit the google search. Kinda like a one search to rule them all thing. It makes it too easy.

I don’t seem to have the same issue with a “time” and “type” thing. Mostly because I don’t remember those things anyway, so it would do me no good to try and narrow results.

Even when I’m looking on the web for some bit of knowledge, I’m probably using combinations of known concept related keywords and general topics to do “on the fly” research in the hopes of narrowing in on exactly what I’m looking for. The most frustrating times are when my topic background is so weak that I can’t even get a good keyword handle to pull on.

So what do my readers think? Have you used Google desktop and does it “work” for you? Do tell.

Originally published on Monday September 26, 2005 at 1:55 am

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