May 13, 2005
Todd Miller's In Defense of Stupid Users
In Defense of Stupid Users by Todd Miller -- (Library Journal 3/15/2005) caused quite a stir on several boards. Here's why:
In the library world, we spend a remarkable amount of time and energy larding up our search interfaces with umpteen filters, Boolean pull-downs, radio buttons, and so on.
After we've built the ultimate stretch Cadillac of search engines, we proceed to "educate" the user about constructing searches in native command languages. And we're incredulous when Johnny turns to Google instead of to the awesome nuclear engine we've constructed. Obviously, something must be wrong with Johnny if he doesn't fully appreciate and engage our console of the arsenal of knowledge.
No mechanics, just drivers.
Google gives its users a pitiful solo search box. How can it compete? The answer from the old guard is that it's dumbed down. The reality is that Google gives its customers what they want: simple searching, powerful results.
I agree. When high precision searching is required, we are there. As Miller concludes:
The job of information professionals is not to make all users into information professionals. Our job is either to give them the right tools for the job or do the job for them.
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