The limits of knowledge

14 Feb

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with Google, and the word was Google.

An educational experiment has ended in failure. (It’s disappointing, but as expected.) Some students were tasked with finding a specific piece of information about me (something private, though not at all confidential).

They drew a blank; I wanted to know why. ‘We tried looking on your blog, couldn’t find it, and gave up’.

‘Why didn’t you ask me?’ Silence.

Not everything that can be known is known. I’m a huge fan of Google, but remember this: it’s the start point for an enquiry, not its end. And personal relationships still have a place in public relations.

9 Responses to “The limits of knowledge”

  1. Karen Russell 14/02/2007 at 5:47 pm #

    I don’t think the experiment failed. I think the students did! But if they learned something by their failure, all the better.

  2. Philip Young 14/02/2007 at 7:08 pm #

    I am asking, so will you tell me?

  3. Ike 14/02/2007 at 7:13 pm #

    So, Richard… what was it you asked them to find out?
    Actually, I think this experiment may have something else to say about your students. Is their expectation that the answer would be online an extension of their expectation that everything will one day be online? Or is it an outgrowth of their own policies regarding what they share on the net?

  4. Heather Yaxley 14/02/2007 at 7:34 pm #

    This would be even more worrying if they were journalism students, but the failure to recognise people themselves as the best source of information is still a concern. We always start our CIPR courses with the students sharing something about themselves that others wouldn’t know – the more unusual the better and then have a game of guessing who the fact belongs to. As well as helping with name recognition it is a useful reminder of the interesting sides to people if you just ask.

  5. Sherrilynne Starkie 16/02/2007 at 9:49 am #

    Clever. Well done.

  6. Heather Smith 16/02/2007 at 12:27 pm #

    Hmm, I’d like to say I would’ve asked you, but fear my brain has become googled. Perhaps we are borg…
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffharaway_pr.html

  7. Michael Higgins 20/02/2007 at 12:53 am #

    I feel someone has to defend us; we’re not quite as daft as you make us sound. We all came to the conclusion that asking you was what we were meant to do once Google had been exhausted. I don’t think anyone took that extra step as once we knew how to get the answer, and the lesson was learnt, what the answer actually was ceased to matter.
    However, had you warned us beforehand there would be fizz as a prize I imagine we would have found out pretty quickly.

  8. Richard Bailey 20/02/2007 at 8:41 am #

    Sorry if I made you sound daft (it’s not in my best interests to do this). I know you’re anything but, Michael. But I do feel that you all have many lessons to learn, not all of them constrained within the pages of a PR textbook. For example, confidence and commonsense.

  9. fosseng.info 22/02/2007 at 1:10 pm #

    Avsløring: Google har ikke svaret på alt!

    Svaret på alt er som kjent 42, noe også søkemotoren Google kan bekrefte. Vi bruker derfor gjerne Google til alt. Og vi gidder gjerne ikke lete videre hvis Google gir oss et svar vi er sånn passe fornøyd med. Greit nok, liksom. Og de fleste av oss …

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