The Banality of Search

Over the last few years, something has changed. I’ve lost my fear of losing things on the Internet. It feels like search got good enough, and the things that I care about searching for have become ‘reliably find-able’.

For me, ‘reliably find-able’ means that they are:

1) Find-able
– ‘easy to find’: It feels like Google has done the lion’s share of the work here, although having competitors probably helps more than you think
– ‘in multiple places’: For example, Skyrim has *two*[1] entire wikis devoted to it, to say nothing of all of the forums

2) Reliably so
– Things have been ‘easy to find’ and ‘in multiple places’ for a considerable amount of time. I was recently reading forum posts from 7 years ago[2] which were still as relevant as when they were written.
– To have really reduced the fear of loss[3] required these things to remain easily findable, for an extended period of time. For me this is years, perhaps 5?

This becomes normalized, even banal, because I find myself saying things like: “I found that information last time easily through Google, I don’t need to save it…”

I’m not even using bookmarks any more! The ‘awesome bar’ handles most of that automatically, and Google does the rest.

Contrast this with the early days of the internet, where secret urls were passed by word of mouth (or via CD, in the case of AOL). Bookmarks were carefully curated and organized, because it would be so difficult to find it again.

So, what is the next evolution? Anticipating searches? Remembering for you? Remembering selectively or in a context-associated way for you?

You search.
You search, and it’s at the top of the list
It suggests as you’re starting to search.
It suggests before you search.
It suggests before you think to search.

It acts before you know you have the desire.

[1]Even Star Wars only has one!

[2]Keeping this human ‘institutional knowledge’ going may be the most important thing our generation does.

[3]One of, if not the most powerful human fear. It leads to protectiveness, limited time sales, and nostalgia.

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