Thursday, July 21, 2011

Search Engines are Outdated

Search engines are outdated. Really. They're about, what, 10-15 years old in terms of popular use? And they have transformed the way we live our lives -- even our memory is changing.

And they're outdated.

I bet a lot of people who found their way to this page are part of why they're outdated. You may not know it, but let's think about it. I'll use education as an example, since this is a blog sort of about teaching. If you're a teacher and you need a good web-based resource, where do you go? 10 years ago, it may have been to Google. 20 years ago, it was to a colleague (though it was probably not for a web-based resource). Now, it's definitely to our colleagues. The difference here is that my colleagues are not limited to the 5 other 7th and 8th grade teachers at my school. It's much, much larger than that.

I, and many others, go to Twitter. Look at this post by Erin Ochoa:

A great question -- and a very appropriate place to ask it! Not only that, but it was the FIRST PLACE SHE WENT (I asked her -- another great thing about Twitter). Not to a search engine. Not to e-mail/call her colleagues (it is summer, after all). She went to Twitter. It's what we're all doing these days!

The search engines know this. Did you notice how Google and Bing have social networks built in? You can see live tweets related to your query. You can see things your friends have recommended. They know that we are in a social world, and a simple search engine isn't going to cut it anymore. We need something to cut through the garbage.

That something is each other.

Twitter is amazing with this. Google+ will be as well, but I imagine to a lesser extent (you don't know to look for information from people you're not already connected with).

My question: how do we bring this to the classroom? How do we move beyond search engines and into asking questions to real, live, knowledgeable human beings who know what we're looking for? Twitter's handy, but will we get parents on board with that? It seems too public. I'm really not sure how to approach this.

1 comment:

  1. I have just started with Twitter, and am not yet seeing the uses. However: about 15 years ago, I learned of a concept they called "Local Physics Alliance". It can take various forms, but in my case, I contacted the local HS physics teachers, got their emails, with the idea that we could exchange resources and pass questions between our classes. Twitter could be kept 'local' (and not 'public'), if you (the teacher) owned accounts like @MrWyzlic3rdPeriod, which could pose questions to your other periods, each 'following' the others. Or, @WesternHSPhyz tweets @EasternHSPhyz "Hah! We solved this problem! Can you??" Naturally, the teacher needs to own the accts, and does the typing, or you'll get "...Can you, noobs?"