The Fine Art of Search

The Fine Art of Search

Tanya Sudolnik Allison Coquet February 1, 2017

The following post is part two of Don't Sit on Your Assets on Dynamic Archive

Do you know a Googlemeister or a Search and Seek Master? This is your go to person when you have an obscure question but are not able to find the answer using Siri or Alexa. Within seconds they find the answer to your question and provide three additional factoids around it (which, by the way you never requested).

Googlemeisters (yes, they exist) have a knack for finding answers through search engines or using other resources such as wikis or forums. The search results and the order in which they are displayed are dictated by the algorithms behind the search function. Search algorithms retrieve information stored within a data structure. Thus, the way data is stored, tagged with keywords, or other identifying factors is paramount to getting desired results.

Let’s use a simple example: your young child needs to do some research on military tanks. As the googlemeister of the family you pop the word into the taskbar and hope that the predictive search engine saves you time and offers you ‘tank military.’ As this is not the case, you must rethink and refine your approach.

In the video content business, searching through trillions of moments of video to find ‘tank’ can be just as time consuming and arduous to narrow down a set of results. Even in a large asset management system ‘tank’ could mean a container for fish or a military vehicle, two very different things (as you can see below) requiring further refinement.

At Wazee Digital, we have taken the necessary steps on Wazee Digital Core to empower our customers to unleash their inner ‘googlemeister.’ As there are over 8000 homonyms ( in the English language, one of our first steps was to figure out how an asset management system would know which type of tank the user was looking for to search.

plural noun: homonyms

  1. each of two or more words having the same spelling but different meanings and origins (e.g., pole and pole); a homograph.
    • each of two words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling (e.g., to, too, and two); a homophone.

Enhancing Wazee Digital Core with the ability to import a client and/or industry based specific (medical, military, scientific, sport, etc) thesaurus and the use of controlled vocabulary (taxonomy and terminology) provides a more powerful search experience for our customers (and us!) saving an incredible amount of time.

In the spirit of saving you search time, taxonomy is the classification or scheming of a group of words, and generally involves a hierarchy or top down relationship such as a parent/broader term or a child/narrower term. Going back to our tank example, a taxonomy of military tanks might look something like the below:

Further, terminology is a group of words that have something in common and may or may not be in a hierarchical relationship, such as military, tanks, armored vehicle, tracked vehicle, Flammpanzer II.

A thesaurus (or thesauri for those that prefer their thesaurus in plural) creates hierarchical taxonomies, but it also supports the full range of relationship types along with terminology information.

We used this fancy English lesson to architect and implement a controlled vocabulary that allows the consistency of use for the ‘correct’ terms based upon the preferred usage of our customers. This ensures a client who is nature and animal focused will find ‘tank-fish-saltwater’ while our other military based client will find ‘tank-panzer-military.'

According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average—searching for and gathering information. Clearly there is a fast-soft ROI with implementing a system which includes capability around controlled vocabulary supported by industry specific thesauri. That’s a lot of extra time to be a googlemeister.