Anything and everything can be filed in any numbers of ways. Indeed, it is an old story that a lot of men of “a certain age” start spending more and more of their time rearranging their CD collection in different ways. Alphabetically by artist, by style, by title, by date… It is when this happens that the man’s wife or girlfriend knows it is time to leave.
The same is true with books – do we put all the fiction on one shelf and the non-fiction on another. Do we separate crime and thrillers from the historical novels?
And then again with paperwork. Are the legal files to be arranged by client or by case or by type of case?
In the end we need indexes so that we can at least look something up in an index and then work within that through a contents list (if we have built one).
But sometimes, I feel, this is not what we need at all. If I look at a legal case or a story I occasionally want connections rather than the logical links. If all my files are neat and tidy in the right order, this is not what I get.
In short, sometimes if I am trying to solve a problem I want metaphors rather than logic. (The same is true in the aforementioned murder mysteries. Have you noticed how often the detective suddenly snaps his/her fingers and goes off at a tangent having seen a connection no one else has seen).
So it is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to a search engine which aims to create knowledge through supplying disparate and possibly metaphorical related information. In other words, a search engine providing insights, rather than facts. It is the search engine for people who are looking to generate ideas or see problems in a new light. Which is most of us, I think, although we don’t always admit it.
The new search engine aiming to provide the inspiration and insight is http://www.yossarianlives.com/ – Yossarian being the main character of Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch-22.”
Unfortunately I can’t give you details of just how the search engine works because it is not running yet, although by the time you get to read this it might be. If not, you can register and they’ll send you a note when it is all up and running.
I normally don’t mention anything which is not yet up and operational, but because of the way in which the website speaks of itself and the way it has been previewed in the type of magazines that I like to read, I find myself casting my mind back to my days at school when I found myself much more interested in strange connections rather than all that I should have been studying. (Which is probably why I spent more time on Dylan Thomas than on the texts I was set to study.)
Thus I am fascinated by the question, “Is a Formula 1 pit crew a metaphor for a GP’s practice?” I am not sure but it is something I enjoy contemplating, and it is good to know there is a group of people who feel interested enough to build a search engine around the whole idea.
When the site is up and running I’ll return to the issue and report my findings. If you feel moved to register as well, perhaps you could let me know what you find.
Meanwhile if you want to put things away in a logical order and have a fair chance of finding the right thing in the right place – Admiral is the place to do the storing. There are more details at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk