When Reality is Not What We Expected
We all know from experience that finding something is easier when the scope is limited: with a few exceptions, this is our everyday life…
Therefore, it’s strange to notice how this seems not to be true when considering information search on the Internet (where we search among billions of pages) compared to a search on an Intranet (where we have far less pages): in fact for many people it’s easier to find information on the Internet rather than inside their computer or in a local network (be it small or big.)
If we analyse this matter in detail, we realize that actually there is no reversal of the logic; we are just comparing two situations that can only partly be compared.
The first main difference between a search on the Internet and one on an Intranet is the object of the search itself:
– on the Internet we often search for very generic data (the web site of a company or of a person, information on a certain subject) that cannot be found on an Intranet;
– on an Intranet we tend to search for specific data: information on activities connected to projects, updates on commercial situations, various documentation on sold products, on bought goods, on employed resources, etc.;
The second distinction consists in the different relevance we assign to the data we are searching on the two sources, as the assumptions and expectations are completely different: on the Internet we are content with generic information, at least some kind of indication, while when we search the data base of our business company we expect to find the right and complete answer, the one able to solve our doubt, or to match the data we already have.
Moreover, often on our Intranet we already know that a certain piece of information is actually available, but we don’t know exactly where; while in other cases we discover by mere chance a document in our database – the one document about technological application we could not find when we were looking for it.
This is why we tend to be demanding with Intranet search engines, and tolerant with Internet engines.
The third main difference concerns the quantity of the available data: it is true that an Internet search is applied to billions of pages, but it is also true that the redundancy of information is often extremely high. This factor reduces the number of “single” pages on which the search is actually applied, and therefore increases the probability to find “that generic information or that mere indication”, that in the end is not even so critical… but somehow reassures us.
To sum up, this is good demonstration that, when we talk about information, often things are not what they appear and it’s always worth trying to understand what’s behind them.