Starting points

A few weeks ago I sat down with engineers over coffee and different times and talked with them about the issue of searching for information on the internet. I discovered that, universally, they were frustrated by the process but didn't really know what could be done.  What they said ties into things I've heard about engineers and how they process information and explains a lot.

They start with a question about a particular topic, so they type in a search term.  The term brings up hundreds of links, most of which are press releases or contributed articles trying to get them to buy a particular product and only tangentially addressing their question. They click on link after link; inputting new search terms and finding more links, until they finally find enough information to get started.  "It's time consuming and, more often than not, counter productive," one state emphatically.  It is also they only option they have.

The traditional media doesn't help, either.  An article in EE Times or Electronic Products may have a portion of what they are looking for, but it rarely drills down into the specific question or issue they are looking at.  And there are rarely any links contextualized within those articles to get them going in the right direction... or any direction.

The media could help with this.  They could do searches themselves and provide the links, but the journalists writing the articles barely have enough time to create the content.  They definitely don't have the time to find appropriate links.  If they did, they would run into another problem: Competition.

The engineers stated that they will, evenutally, find what they are looking for by searching multiple sites and publications, but those publications are just going to help them look because that might mean sending them to a different publication... and we can't have that, can we?

But what if we did do just that?  What if there were someone who would really take an objective position on information?  What if they were to just admit that information no longer has monetary value and that it only had value if it were applied to solving problems?

What if?