2011 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?

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Computer Scientist, UC Berkeley, School of Information; Author, Search User Interfaces
Findex

Findex (n): The degree to which a desired piece of information can be found online.

We are the first humans in history to be able to form just about any question in our minds and know that very likely the answer can be before us in minutes, if not seconds. This omnipresent information abundance is a cognitive toolkit entirely in itself. The actuality of this continues to astonish me.

Although some have written about information overload, data smog, and the like, my view has always been the more information online, the better, so long as good search tools are available. Sometimes this information is found by directed search using a web search engine, sometimes by serendipty by following links, and sometimes by asking hundreds of people in our social network or hundreds of thousands of people on a question answering website such as Answers.com, Quora, or Yahoo Answers.

I do not actually know of a real findability index, but tools in the field of information retrieval could be applied to develop one. One of the unsolved problems in the field is how to help the searcher to determine if the information simply is not available.