Why Search is Done by Geeks Not Authors

I love search…in all its forms. I love the fact that even as data explodes we have a way to navigate and in some meager way comprehend the complexity and scale of knowledge. So I was excited to try out a new search which I came across recently called smalldemons.com. This is our guide to the “storyverse” (get it?) it’s a search platform which purports to offer insights and connections on books, authors, places and characters along the lines of “drinks found in James Bond novels” or “places in War and Peace”. It also has a neat Pintrest like feature which allows you to assemble a story board linking items, people and places from and around books.

My first reaction was ‘how cool’…no idea how the ex Yahoo and Facebook guys behind the site will make money but I love the idea. Then (being the annoying search guy I am) I started some cursory testing.

Place search: “Krishnapur” the city at the center of the fabulous indeed award winning”Siege of Krishnapur” no results.

Character Search: “Samuel Vimes” hero of many of the enormously successful Discworld novels. Lots of Samuel but no “Samuel Vimes”…at least not on the first pages.
Item search:  “Victory Gin” the gut rot drink for George Orwell’s 1984.… lots of “Victory” no “Victory Gin”

Shakespeare Search: “Damned Spot” from Macbeth…actually this is a funny result. First result a recent novel called “Damned” second result “Where’s Spot” the kid’s book.
Great but somewhat older novel search: “Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man” nothing relevant

Movie Quote Search: “You played if for her you can play it for me” from Casablanca….nothing close to relevant.

I promise those were my first eight searches at random from the rat’s nest of literary pocket litter which passes for my brain. I was somewhat saddened, especially when Google and Wikipedia (except for Wiki which missed the last one) both easily nailed every search. I actually love the idea of a search which does the cool kind of conceptual thinking and linking this site sets out to do. However, if they don’t even have phrase match search figured out let alone conceptual stemming then they have a ways to go. I was thinking I might make my first story board one called “People, places, books, references and things” which you can’t find easily using smalldemons.com…..but that would be unkind no?

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