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Search Engines: Pick Your Flavor

Metaphorical Search explained and demonstrated by J. Paul Neeley

Search engines became the dynamo of the Internet simply by providing speedy answers to specific questions. Along the way they have been criticized for ruining cocktail parties and heated discussions with a quick authoritative answers that quell idle speculation and flights of rhetoric. Now they provide predictive, associative and metaphorical search. (Visual search still has several kinks to work out according to Mae Anderson writing for The Associated Press.)

Predictive search begins with the person initiating the search. It takes in account interests of the searcher as revealed in prior Internet use, often re-phrasing or altering the input to provide what it thinks the user wants to know. “I’m Google” is an example of associative search. It and metaphorical search are described by Katie Meier in her initial Sideswipes column for Media Daily News Sept.25. She says, “If you participate in digital culture today, you are being taught to experience the world’s information as a visual thing. ‘Data is beautiful’ is one way we say this. Another is to think about how we experience information on Instagram.

“An image on Instagram contains all sorts of information translated into a visual thing. We know whether to laugh, offer encouragement, reflect on a memory, celebrate, or spread gossip — all from a single encounter with an image.” She says, “The information and images associated with a single Instagram image is what “I’m Google” seeks to provide, revealing patterns that images make when allowed to flow together under different rules than by “definition” of the main thing in the shot.” The flowing together of associative images creates a living, evolving search result.

The Internet of Things (IoT) Illustration by Wilgengebroed This search process seeks to generate new knowledge by finding connections between different “silos” of fact. An example provided is the relationship between a Formula 1 pit crew and a hospital’s emergency room crew. They have totally different objectives but such similar structures that studying pit crews in action has helped hospitals design better emergency room teams.

Aaron Goldman in a column entitled Googling The Future of Search for Search Insider, sees search fading out when the Internet of Things becomes an everyday (everything) reality. He says, “Indeed, Googling something will take on a much different meaning once the mission of organizing all the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful moves from Web pages to everyday objects.”