Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Let me say a word about a striking use of this program.
I keep an HP33S, loaded with my shuffle program, on my desk alongside my computer. Whenever I have a thought I want to pursue, even one of the many wisps of far-afield thoughts that an active mind will entertain, I write it down on a slip of paper in whatever form I have it in for the moment. Then I number all the words in the statement, starting from one, and using my shuffle program I enter all the words in the statement into a search box on my computer in a random order, and then do a search.
I do this because I don't know the algorithm search engines use to respond to the order of a search string. From what I have read it's very complicated, beyond my comprehension. But it certainly isn't a reproduction of the feeling and sense I get after reading a statement myself. What I want is exactly a search for that feeling and sense. Barring that, given that the order algorithm is a mystery, I am ambivalent between all possible orders of the words. I don't trust the algorithm, and in practice it's not complementary to the feeling and sense of whole sentences.
But I find that different random orders of the same set of search terms come up with a very different set of search results when the terms are the words in a lengthy sentence, not just the order, but the number of results. By doing this with several random orders I get several sets of results whose top listings are all much more relevant to my statement than the later listings of any of the lists, with very little redundancy. In this richer field I am finding some quite intriguing results, without spending oodles of time pursuing results farther and farther down a list. A new random order set of terms will refresh whatever effects are stressed by the search engine, but with extended life of the top listing nature.
The program gives such a good randomness, thanks to its random number generator, that a sentence of about ten words can be shuffled many many times with each time yielding more excellent, stimulating results in the top listings.
I have also used this application to do searches on an expression of a troubleshooting problem. I find this method has a definite tendency to provide a broader base of attack, leading to more actionable ideas, on problems that otherwise proved intractible.
Digging deeper into the value of the search engine in this way seems to have potential for tapping into the language more fully than is currently practiced pretty much universally--the short, nongrammatical search string. If search engines were smart they would provide a button to shuffle the current search string. Until then, I'm glad to have my program on a platform so convenient as a mere calculator. (There are enough other uses of the program that I'll be glad to have it after then too.)
I have seen a video of a talk by an expert about searches in which he made the statement that people "don't get out of bed in the morning saying 'I'm going to do a search today.' They only do a search if they have something specific to look up." Armed with my program, I am waking up accompanied by a feeling I'm going to do a search today, because language itself, and all its mysteries, is at the threshold of accessibility by search.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Here are complete instructions in use of the program:
Documentation For Program To Shuffle Up To 185 Items For HP33S Calculator