Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Googling is web-storming; brainstorming is brain-searching

Today marks the nth day I have been doing web research on a pretty specialized academic topic that I believe might have social benefits.  'Til today, my searches have mostly yielded little results.  The academic research I've been looking for seemed to have dried up in the last few years, leaving me puzzled as to why.  Until today.  Finally, I got some results that seemed to indicated otherwise.

In this way, googling (or "binging") is like brainstorming.  The creativity experts say that the magic of brainstorming doesn't happen until you've put in enough time and made a long list of things you've found in your brain.  All the obvious stuff is listed first and all the good stuff is in the bottom third of a long list.  That seems to describe web search which is an  analog of "brain-searching."  Search begins with obvious keywords and sometimes an unwillingness to go beyond the first couple pages of results.  (This is the equivalent of searching for your lost keys underneath the street light.)  Then you get an unexpected result which leads to more results through surfing the initial result and keywords derived from that result.   It ends with non-obvious keywords and word combinations that are discovered by certain things along the way.

Moral of the story: if you're searching for something important stagger the search over many days or even weeks.  On a deeper level, searching is essential to good thinking, so...you ought to google your brain.

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