Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Steady little helper

Should you get married?  Buy a new car?  Eat more fiber? You have a ready source of advice and assistance if you use Google Search or Bing or Duckduckgo.  You may feel silly putting "Should I rent or buy a house?" into a search engine but think about it.  Many other people have the same question and they have asked it.  Those with houses to rent and those with houses for sale have web pages and other communications about their businesses. You can see what other people have said and what they have experienced.

You may be unaware that housing is cheaper somewhere you are interested in living.  You may think of alternative wording, more detail (one year lease or less or more?) and alternative possibilities (Should I engage a builder to build a house?)  Thinking of what you actually want to know and extending from what you discover can lead quickly at essentially no cost to new thinking and new possibilities.  What you want to know can change as a result of seeing the material that comes up.

Personally, I find it takes concentration and steady reminding to think of the search engine for helpful answers.  All my life, I have used reference books to try to answer questions.  Since they are not always at hand, I don't think of Google as being ready to help, an Ann Landers not just for relationship questions but for any question.  It really is surprising how much expert knowledge and help is available.  I learned to stop searching hierarchically, starting the Abraham Lincoln and then asking what year he got elected to the US Senate.  It takes a little effort to think as I begin searching that I want to know "what year Lincoln elected to US Senate?"  [1854].

Don't forget to check with YouTube, too.  Searching in YouTube may turn up results that don't come up in the basic searches.  I just put "I feel lost" in Google and got 600,000,000 results in .5 seconds.  Nobody is going to comb through six hundred million results.  Us modern sophisticates expect that a good portion of those results will be unuseable or inappropriate or lead in the wrong direction.  When I put "I feel lost" in YouTube, I get different results and only 8.6 million of them.  There is sometimes a general feeling that seeing is always better than reading but that isn't always true.  Nevertheless, a video can indeed deepen and widen thinking in ways that straight text doesn't.

So, care of ceramic knives or basket weaving or learning to sketch or saddling your horse, you will find it difficult to NOT find something helpful. Search engines and videos can be great sources of help in using your computer and other devices better.

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