As the bulk of information has become accessible online, our ability to find what we’re looking for has almost become more valuable than the searchable databases themselves. But with many generations still considered digital immigrants, there is still much to learn.
According to a story in the Atlantic last week, 90 percent of people don’t know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or a web page. The news came from a talk with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google. He spends time with random people in order to studying how they read and search for their information.
“90 percent of the US Internet population does not know that. This is on a sample size of thousands,” Russell said. “I do these field studies and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve sat in somebody’s house as they’ve read through a long document trying to find the result they’re looking for. At the end I’ll say to them, ‘Let me show one little trick here,’ and very often people will say, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my life!'”
Alex Madrigal blames schools and the lack of training in electronic literacies: “Just like we learn to skim tables of content or look through an index or just skim chapter titles to find what we’re looking for, we need to teach people about this CTRL+F thing.”
According to Madrigal, “We’re talking about the future of almost all knowledge acquisition and yet schools don’t spend nearly as much time on this skill as they do on other equally important areas.”