I am trying to find an article I read sometime within the past two years. As I recall, it was a blog post in which the author was examining the question “Where exactly does the action take place when you read a book?” It was well-written, humorous, direct and contained a fair number of four-letter words. I think the post started out with an excerpt from a book that the author had read over the weekend and that made her think about the question. Yes, I think the author was a woman.
Unfortunately, if I saved a link to this article somewhere, I am not able to find it in my delicious bookmarks or Twitter backups. I say “unfortunately,” because I have lost faith that I will be able to find that article using any existing search engine.
I have composed countless queries to Google, Bing, Yahoo and various other obscure search engines like Blekko, Yebol and Hakia using permutations of words like “book,” “story,” “read,” “where,” “action,” “happen,” and “in your head,” a phrase I seem to remember being used in the article. NB: I also tried “in your mind,” as well as a few other things I’ve forgotten. Unfortunately, I can’t think of many other discriminating words that would likely lead to the article I’m looking for. I have tried using complete sentences and simple natural language questions, and I tried limiting my search to articles published within a certain time period, all of this to no avail.
I am not interested in finding articles about making money, where to find books to read, where to download free books, any kind of mental illnesses, writing a book, anything involving “how to,” reading faster, becoming more intelligent, remembering what I read, surviving a fall from a commercial airliner [Yes, that was in the results! It was interesting too, although I became queasy reading it.], anything paranormal, suicide, song lyrics, etc., etc.
Internet search engines have become useless, which isn’t so much news in and of itself, since I believe this has been the case for some time now, it’s the scale of their failure, which has now reached epic proportions. Yes, there is a mind-boggling amount of content available, and I do realize that searching through it all is a monumental effort. However, I think that the idea of using keywords to search the Internet has reached its limits, and search engines need to take other equally valuable types of information as input.
Think about it. Search engines are optimized for finding anything except what seems to be articles that might possibly pertain to what I’m looking for: an article describing the relationship between the book and the reader. I don’t care how many incoming and outgoing links the page has; it doesn’t matter to me that most people searching aren’t looking for this kind of information, that the author doesn’t live in the same country I do, or that it has little relation to my past searches. What is so hard to understand about that?
Take the first paragraph of this post. I could explain just that to almost any living person and they’d have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for. They might even suggest something that would lead me to the actual article.
Now why can’t somebody make a search engine that will do that?