Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I came across a blog by Wes Freyer today in which he tells his story about searching for an elusive Apple iTunes commercial.

When he tried the query january 2007 itunes commercial he was able to locate it (#2 in the ranking). I commented in his blog that this is a good example of the power of proper nouns (january itunes), numbers (2007) and minimal operators in searches. Until he recalled the month and year when he'd first seen the video,

Wes couldn't retrieve the information.

Or could he?

If you've spent time around our resources, you might suspect there's a shorter query that could work. Here it is: itunes commercial. The two-word query retrieves the same page (#3 in the ranking) without having to remember the specific date information.

This illustrates nicely how reducing queries to the bare minimum is an efficient, effective means of finding information. One keyword is rarely enough, but two is often the most elegant solution, even if it comes in ranked #3 instead of #2.

~ Dennis 21cif

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