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Re: Indexing/Searching for Plurals

From: Craig A Summerhill <craig(at)>
Date: Thu Aug 13 1998 - 06:03:14 GMT
In response to Paul Lucas <>, Frank Heasley
<> wrote:
> I think this is the focal point of one of the largest problems in 
> search engine design.
> Most folks who use search engines aren't programmers.  (They aren't 
> Joe Sixpack either, but that's a different story).

Not that this has anything to do with SWISH-E, but while we're on the
subject of search engines...  I'm not sure I agree with this point of
view entirely. 

For whatever reason, it seems a lot of people in my field (libraries)
like to make the assumption that the general public consists of a bunch
of dolts incapable of using the kinds of high-end tools envisioned by
systems programmers and engineers.  For my part, I don't understand 
why libraries spend good money for some of the systems they purchase 
(or license) because the user interfaces and system features are so 
poorly engineered, or in many cases simply non-existant.

Of one thing I am certain.  The general public is getting savvy about
computers and networking, including obscure things such as the inner
workings of search engines, much more quickly than companies in the
industry seem to be able to get high-end state of the art technology 
into their products and out the door.

Making assumptions that computers should make all kinds of intelligent 
decisions behind the scenes and that user interfaces should be as 
simple as possible, requiring no intelligence on the part of the 
human "user" is simply wrong.  User "groups" are widely varying in 
their knowledge and abilities, but for the most part all of the 
"users" are moving faster than the "computers" themselves.

   Craig A.  Summerhill, Systems Coordinator and Program Officer
   Coalition for Networked Information
   21 Dupont Circle, N.W., Washington, D.C.   20036
   Internet:   AT&Tnet (202) 296-5098
Received on Wed Aug 12 23:15:48 1998