Sometimes we astound and thrill with our skills. But sometimes we lack the tools to truly fulfil our abilities.
Allow me to explain…
The End Of Wistful Speculation
Recently I was at dinner with friends who are just beginning to embrace the world-at-your-fingertips convenience of smart phones.
They were considering a poodle-cross and were wondering which breeds would be best.
Now we’re all familiar with the modern dinner-party phenomenon where someone’s desire to wonder and conjecture, to wistfully speculate, is brought to an abrupt halt by having a Google search result jammed in their face.
I was that face-jammer.
Wonder no more, said I, with an unnecessary flourish of my phone that nearly sent flying the very fine Côtes du Rhône I was drinking. I had quickly googled ‘best breed to cross with poodle’ and handed over a top-10 list complete with pics. It was exactly what they wanted.
How did you find that? Rodney marvelled. I smiled secretively, letting him think I was in possession of some arcane dog-breeding knowledge, and not simply an overfamiliarity with Buzzfeed’s style of image-driven, listicle curation.
Like A Cat With A Dead Bird
In truth though, just as RainMan was an excellent driver, I am an excellent googler. Like seriously top-notch.
In fact I would say that, together with stacking the dishwasher and lip-syncing to 80s lyrics, googling makes up my triumvirate of utterly amazing yet sadly unmonetizable talents.
Where others fail, abandoning their searches in despair, I triumph. If it’s out there lurking in cyberspace, I will track it down and bring it to you on my phone like a cat with a dead bird in its mouth. But less gross. Though depending on what you’re searching for, possibly not.
But my ability to find what I don’t know – OK call it a super-talent if you insist – is limited by the information I do know.
Let me give you an example.
The other night as Craig and I watched Daredevil there was an actress who kept reminding me of an actor whom I just couldn’t place.
Me: Who does that girl remind me of?
Craig: I have no idea.
Me: Yes you know him. He was that guy that was mean in that movie.
Craig: Oh you mean Alan Rickman.
Me: Yes! Thank you!
In this case my informative and detailed hints were sufficient that Craig’s answer was all but redundant.
But what if your informational crumbs are not enough to form a proper cyber-trail?
This is where Google, for all its supposed clever algorithms and whatnot, really lets us down. This is where the internet as a whole has a fatal flaw. It does not search far enough.
The Guy With The Thing From That Movie
What we need is what I think of as personal-psycho-search: it’s part personal history, part mind-reading, part web-search.
Imagine the possibilities! You would be able to search stuff like:
- Who was that guy with the thing from that movie?
- Where did I find that cronut that time that was really really awesome?
- What do you call that whatsit with the thingamabob on it?
- (And my particular favorite) How do I get home from here if I don’t recognise any landmarks and I can’t read maps?
I think you can see the opportunity that lies waiting for some savvy developer, right?
Even more sophisticated would be the kind of search that mimics my sister’s ability to not only fill in the blanks I don’t know, but also to correct the bits I have wrong.
Such as in this actual conversation, similar to many we have had over the years.
Me: Hey what was that show we watched as kids that had that guy George in it, and it was called something and something?
Jackie: It was called 1915 and his name was Scott.
Me: That’s the one!
Dear Google, we need a search that can do that.
Note: An earlier version of this appeared on micheleconnolly.com