Saturday, August 08, 2009

Search me!

click photo to enlarge
The ability to search the internet effectively is a useful skill, yet, if my experience is anything to go by, there are a lot of people who haven't got beyond the most basic level. One of the interesting features of my "hit counter" (SiteMeter at the bottom of this page) is that it shows me the search engines and the search words that brought individuals to PhotoReflect. In recent weeks I've started to notice Microsoft's Bing making an appearance. Google, of course, has been the most commonly used search engine, followed by Yahoo, with all the others as "also rans."

Why do I say that many people don't use these sophisticated search engines well? An example will illustrate the point to best effect. Yesterday someone, somewhere in the UK, entered the words "fylde hag" into Bing. That brought them to a page of Bing search results - - with at the top a PhotoReflect reference to the sought after term. The person followed this link to the start of a page of posts from May 2006 - . At this point that person appears to have looked at what was visible on screen and gone no further to find what they wanted. In fact they must have gone elsewhere because their stay on PhotoReflect was recorded as less than one second. So, despite having gone to a link with information about their search terms they appear not to have had the skills to find it. He (or she) didn't scroll down to the fifth post on the page: that would have found it. They didn't enter the search term in the Blogger search box: that would have found it. Nor did they use their browser's facility to search the page Bing had sent them to: that would have found it too. You might think that this is a case where someone had gathered as much information as they needed and couldn't be bothered to search further for what they thought would duplicate information they already had. Perhaps. The trouble is, I see evidence of this kind of poor searching most days, often several times! I remember, as a student, being taught how to search libraries and archives using card indices, microfiche and so on. Today these courses must have expanded to include the internet. Perhaps the poor search skills that I highlight shows there's a need for a basic course for the layperson.

All this, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with my photograph of Fringed Water Lilies (Nymphoides peltata) that I photographed on the Maud Foster Drain at Boston, Lincolnshire. Except for the fact that I'd always thought they were Yellow Water Lilies (Nuphar lutea), until an internet search put me right.

By the way, if you're wondering who or what the "Fylde hag" is or was, this post - Do you believe in magic - tells the tale.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro, (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/2
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -2.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On