Monday, June 04, 2007

what's that word i'm looking for!

googlin around for a concept is hard! here's the concept:
why is it that a computer user would more readily listen to another human telling them to do something than a computer telling them the same thing?
now, before you send me all your answers to this question, that's not what i'm looking for! i have many seemingly reasonable answers to this question. i am interested in literature that discusses this idea, or some abstraction of it, either empirically or theoretically.

so i googed for a while and then concluded that i needed to invest in some human capital (sorry server farm, you don't push the right buttons all the time). i go scrounging about on berkeley's econ department page and find first one professor (a nobel prize winner who is really old) and then another, both of whom probably know the keywords i need to find the literature i'm looking for. but i don't want to email professors, this is a huge waste of their time. i want to email their students :)

but in econ, it seems, you don't list your advisor, and you certainly don't list your students! so i email the non-nobel econ prof and cross my fingers. no response. also no response from a psych prof who does behavioral psych.

sigh. i thought my phd-to-be-in-cs-street-cred would count for something, a lil hit of information, some breathing room... nothing.

so i pick up the goog again and keep whacking away at the concept. i just need the right words. back in high school i read some em forster, and his quote (the one that's always quoted) seems quite apt at this point in my adventure:

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.

so here the beast is passion? the monk the prose? well, i am certainly a beast as is my concept, and stupid google monk is refusing to see the beast, being afraid of conceptual understanding. i need to build a bridge.

and so, like all diligent elves, i muck about until i make the connection. but it shouldn't be so hard! and guess what? i have no idea what i did to make the connection, but i now know the key words i needed: advice-taking. there's a whole literature on advice-taking, and i found professor yaniv at the hebrew university of jerusalem and emailed him and he and his graduate student were so kind as to send me more information and offers of help.

the world
if you google hard enough

ps all the links here were found by taking the words linked and googlin. the google monk one is soo good, especially if you think about the invaders as the beast, that the video is posted here:

i realize i could actually write about this beast/monk idea in some detail with respect to concept discovery and google, but i think the video does the connection some justice.


neha said...

you could've cross checked the berkeley econ professors' publications with all the econ students at berkeley to make guesses at advisor-advisee relationships.

bea said...

Why are you looking for an Econ professor? Wouldn't a sociology professor make more sense?

omar said...

everyone's trying to be helpful! can't you just be amused!

so crosschecking the publications just seemed like too much work -- do they want to be affiliated with their prof or not?

as to why econ: well, actually, i sent an email to a behavioral economist, a behavioral psych prof, and a prof in the information school whose background is sociology -- i had taken a class with him. nothing!

bea said...

actually, I do have a different googling issue---I've been trying to google for random things for bakery equipment and packaging, and I haven't been having much luck. I realized the reason for that is american and british terms for the same thing are very different.

For example, I've been looking at customized packaging---for weeks I was having the hardest problem finding companies with websites--tons of US sites, zero UK sites. Then I found out that I'm actually supposed to be looking for "bespoke packaging." (And the list goes on for ovens, bags, bakery equipment, etc.)

google only works if you know what you're looking for. (Barring the britny spares searches that will turn up the right person.) There's still a human element to searching/indexing that google hasn't quite fulfilled yet (in my case, being able to translate and merge cultural references, so if you were looking for a US item, but also it would search for UK phrases that meant the same thing) , but I'm sure in like 5 years you'll get that all sorted out. :)