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Blog + Twitter vs. Aardvark: A Rematch

It’s clear that my blog + Twitter vs. Aardvark challenge yesterday wasn’t much of a challenge, so I’m trying again. This time, I believe the questions are much harder. And, for what it’s worth, I don’t know the answers to any of them. I’m posting them all to Aardvark and here on The Noisy Channel at the same time, modulo my speed of typing.

  1. What is the origin of my name, Tunkelang? To the best of my knowledge the only people alive in the world who bear this name are myself (Daniel), my brother Michael, and my daughter Lily. My father, Ben, died last year.
  2. I used to play a text-based game called “Kill” over a dial-up teletype terminal in the 1970s. Is this game still around in any form?
  3. Is there a karaoke bar in New York or Boston that has the song “Mercy Street” by Peter Gabriel?
  4. Are there bacon and sour cream potato chips available for sale in the United States, like the ones Ruffles used to make? No bacon ranch Pringles or cheddar and bacon anything, please!
  5. Where can I find the proceedings of the 1987 International Conference on The Business of CD-ROM?

Beyond being genuinely interested in the answers to these questions, I’d like to see how “social search” via Aardvark compares to social search via my homegrown social network.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

17 replies on “Blog + Twitter vs. Aardvark: A Rematch”

Note: I wasn’t actually able to post the last question to Aardvark, since evidently I exceeded my limit of 5 questions per day (though I only asked 4!). If someone here wants to post it to Aardvark, I’d appreciate it. Otherwise, Aardvark forfeits a chance to compete on this question. Other than that, no use of Aardvark to answer the questions–that’s cheating.

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[…] I asked Aardvark the following question this afternoon: Trying to track down an animated short where a bunch of critters invent a machine to discover where they are, only to learn that they are a dream inside someone’s head. They ultimately turn into pink flamingos as the dream evolves. I remember them all chanting “Flick the switch!” when the invention is unveiled. No luck tracking it down with my web searching skills. The correct answer came within 6 hours. I’m curious if anyone who reads this message will find it independently–without using Aardvark themselves. If not, I’ll be forced to give Aardvark a very glowing review for answering a question that has been plaguing me for years. One way or the other, I’ll post the answer tomorrow night. Added: Check out the rematch! […]

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this is probably a bit of a stretch, but the closest thing I could find for question 1 was ‘Tunkelan,’ which appears to be a Finnish name. a Google search for it brings up a Finnish PDF document with a line that translates to ‘Tunkelan Mattila’s house.’ it’s a first name there, but maybe it’s a patronymic?

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So while my son was asleep, I poked around a bit and tried to address Daniels’ challenge #1. I published my results as a blog post, because the details started getting too long. The short of it is that the name is a variant of DUNKELANG or DUNKIELANG, which is of German origin. The name was common in Poland in the 19th Century.

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Gene, thank you for the fantastic research. I was aware of the Fajga Tunkelang link you found–and I even asked a Polish friend to look at it, but that was it. I’d never discovered JewishGen.org, and will look at that now, retracing your steps. Again, thank you–this is obviously a bit more personal for me than a duel between social search tools.

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So what’s the moral of this story, in terms of the utility of Google? It is a correct characterization, Gene, to say that Google helped with finding links that contained specific facts, but was severely limited when it came to doing the exploratory search necessary to uncover or discover those new leads to begin with?

You didn’t find JewishGen.org through Google, correct? You had to know about that, externally. So in order to do exploratory search, you had to use tools outside of Google, and then come back in to Google to see where those exploratory steps led?

Is that a fair characterization of your information seeking process?

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One moral for me is that there is real utility to social search. Gene found something for me, using his personal expertise and access to publicly available resources, that I was unable to find using my own expertise and access to those same resources. Google gets credit as an enabler, sinceI don’t think Gene could have found the information without it. But I attribute my own failure to do so at least in part to Google’s lack of support for exploration.

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It sounds like the two of you need to be using some sort of system that supports collaborative exploratory search. That way, you can leverage each of your different search skill levels and domain knowledge levels.

Sorry, that was a shameless plug, I realize. But it was not without good cause: I feel quite strongly about this notion of explicit collaboration in the (social) search process. It is gives whole different character and feel to system design. More importantly, we found that (at least for one search domain) does enable the discovery of information that was otherwise not found, while working separately.

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Jeremy, it might be helpful if you wrote a guest post about collaborative exploratory search and compared it, in theory and practice, to the various options we’re seeing today for social search. I don’t even ask for exclusivity–you could cross-post it your your personal blog or to the FXPal one. Gene, perhaps you two might want to write this one collaboratively. 🙂

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We are in the process of so doing. We’ll actually have at least 5 posts on the topic, but I can see each of those spawning at least one more post.

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The link works and is much appreciated. But I still am gunning for that blog post on the flavors of social search. Think of it as a vehicle for selling collaborative exploratory search as the best idea since sliced aardvarks!

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I did find JewishGen.org through Google. That is, I had visited the site before when doing my own research in the past, but I had not remembered about it when doing this search. It came up on one of the search results in Google, and I recognized it as a lead worth pursuing.

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