A true search engine.

Pondering on how to retrain the way we search, rather than find answers.

Photo by Kayla Farmer on Unsplash

Google isn’t a search engine, it’s an answer engine.

It skips all of the effort which searching takes, and provides you with information at a few finger strokes.

What we need is a tool that helps you learn how to search, and qualify the quality of information you get back.

Consider this exchange:

Me: “Hey Google, how big is space?”

Google: “What a great question! Do you think the answer to this might be a fact, or an opinion?”

Me: “Fact”

Google: “There are somethings we just don’t know the answer to — but science helps us hypothesise and estimate. Therefore, you might get more than one answer to your question. Now, who do you think might have good answers to this estimate?”

Me: “NASA?”

Google: “that’s a great source of information — although they’re just one organisation looking to understand space. What other sources might be useful?”

Me: “Wikipedia?”

Google: “Wikipedia is a great source — but as anyone can edit the content, you do need to make sure you’re checking not only what’s on the page, but also the sources of information which the pages are created from. Let’s think about one more useful source”

Me: “Youtube?”

Google: “Youtube is full of brilliant content, but much of its content is not grounded in evidence, it has been proven to frequently have misinformation, and it is not single source of information but rather a collection of lots of diverse opinions. Can I suggest some other useful sources?”

Me: “No”

Google: “okay, but the best searches are those who are open to sources of information they might not already know, can I suggest three places we have found that consistently provide evidence and truthful content on space?”

Me: “Ugh, okay.”

Google: “Great — I’ve sent some suggestions to your phone of what we call Trustable Sources. We didn’t decide who is trustworthy, but a large collection of people from across the globe, so there’s little risk of bias. Each source has a great article on how big space might be, and I’ve included articles I’ve also found on NASA, Wikipedia and Youtube, as you wanted to check those out too. Read them all, compare information, and see what you think. I’ll check back in tomorrow, and let you know my answer to “how big is space” too. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Me: “I just wanted the answer to the question!”

Google: “I understand that, but just because an answer is easy to find doesn’t make it necessarily right, and using a single source of information makes it all too easy for fake news and disinformation to spread. If you’re really struggling to find the answer after looking at three trusted sources of information — ask me again, and I’ll see what else I can do to help.”

Me: “Pfft. I’m going to ask Bing instead”

Google: “Excellent, you’re already thinking about multiple information sources!”

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Chief Freelance Officer. Strategist. Supporting the mental health of the self-employed. Building teams which work better.

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Matthew Knight

Matthew Knight

Chief Freelance Officer. Strategist. Supporting the mental health of the self-employed. Building teams which work better.

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