Monday, July 5, 2010

Web search tactic: we still need some Boolean logic

Suppose we decided to look up dolphins (the aquatic mammals) with a Google search.
In the top twenty results we will find four pages about the NFL Miami Dolphins football team (other large mammals who wear uniforms). Now that we know that those two concepts overlap, what can we do about it?

Many of us learned some Boolean logic when we encountered “new math” in school.
(Some found that so painful they would like to forget about it.)

There are three operations (or connectors) used between phrases: AND, OR, and NOT. In search they are used as follows:

What words must appear?: AND (+)
What words (synonyms) might appear? (OR)
What words must not appear?: NOT (-)

When we look at a Venn diagram we will see that the overlap (shown above in green) represents Miami AND Dolphins. If all we wanted was the mammals like Flipper, we need to ask for Dolphins -MIami.

In the next post we’ll see how to painlessly use Boolean logic with Advanced Google Search.

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