Why searching the web won’t work

Rumsfeld was on to something when he talked about the “unknown unknown”. I believe that the terms he confused us all with can be used to describe the types of Search people perform on the web:

  • Known Known (KK) – searching for something that you know is there… like how to renew a car tax disc in the UK
  • Known Unknown (KU)– searching for the manual for washing machine… you know the Serial number of the machine but you don’t know if there is a Manual out there but you will know what it is probably going to look like
  • Unknown Unknown (UU)– the really tough one … the complex needs search … search for Debt Solutions and try to discover if you have the best solution or just the best search engine optimised solution, to your needs.

So what is the issue? As the providers of public services become more diverse the problem of finding what is out there moves from the KK and KU to UU.

Twenty years ago if you were out of work you, might have asked your neighbour or have gone to the Employment Exchange.   Today it might be LinkedIn search, a commercial provider, a public service provider or a Public Sector Organisation.  My point is that the answers to seemingly simple questions are becoming complex.

If you are in debt what would be more helpful, understanding the options available to you including the effect of associated depression on decision making or talking to your Bank or other commercial provider. Although it always struck me that talking to any financial intuition about personal debt is as much the same as talking to McDonalds about losing weight. It’s just not in their interests. So if my thesis is correct then will we need to curate search, in other words help people with complex needs search.

Search should not only find the items you are looking for but make recommendations about other related solutions.

In this image you can see how such a search might be structured:


1. Open search box

2. Answers are presented in the same way as normal

3. The recommendations can be added, people who searched for this also found this useful.

4. Searches could be saved and rediscovered and updated when result change

5. An area should be given over to Act … the obvious next step but often hard to find.

6. And perhaps the most important element an area to communicate what they think of services and perhaps what other people think

7. And finally the searcher can access curated searchs by registering

And finally if you are unsure about the necessity of this, here is some advice from the excellent Martin Lewis at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

Urgently check if your EHIC card’s valid. EHICs give access to EU state-run hospitals/GPs like a local (if they pay nothing, nor do you). Yet beware: a) 4m expire this year. Check your card & renew. b) Don’t leave it at home. It’s only valid if you show it. c) Don’t Google it, you’ll get scam sites charging £15. Use our EHIC Help for how to get/renew at no cost.

2 thoughts on “Why searching the web won’t work

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