“But how do I find out what I search for?”, a friend asked the other day, “Google cannot help me find information that I need”. This friend is in the process of completing a thesis on social networks.
Google, Yahoo! Search, Bing and the rest are tools that help us search information already available. Unfortunately they are not mind readers, plus vast though it may be, indexed information on the web is not all available information. Years ago, when put in the same situation, my post started with “I have a silly question” and got back two answers, the answer to my question and that “Silly questions are the ones never asked; there are no silly questions”. So whenever in trouble, when your favorite search engine (or your ability to ask it) seems limited, ask the ultimate search engine:
The best answers I have ever got for questions that troubled me were from humans, be it in person, telephone, the USENET or even mailing lists. My advice to her was to locate and subscribe to a mailing list relevant to her subject (in her case SOCNET) and ask people there. Impressive things happen when you ask people instead of machines. Ideas spring and flourish and (human) networks form. Just do not ask anyone to do your homework for you.