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The Modern Forager


verb: (of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions.

synonyms: scavenge, hunt, search, look, exploration, quest, scout, probe "a nightly forage for food"

Internet has probably succeeded Books as the primary information source for many. Books are fairly structured - Internet is not. It's sort of important to really know the rules of the jungle. The amount of time it takes us to go from "Hey, I need to understand this thing" to "Hey, I totally get it" is a super important skill - much like the time it took the forager to go from "Hey, I am hungry" to "Hey, I found food". Ofcourse, I am specifically talking about things which have been understood by humans and documented somewhere on the internet.

Though internet has become our primary source for information, it may not yet have become our primary source for useful information. We lack the nutrients. Information Indigestion is the new disease in town. We need to learn to filter out the sweet berries from the sour ones. I will give you an example from my parent domain - Electronics. Buck converters are a type of DC-DC power converters used in several portable electronics gadgets (such as your laptop). A Google search on Buck Converters does not yield many useful links. But a Google search on Buck Converters Application Notes throws highly relevant links. Learning from this experience, I almost invariably append application notes to my search query whenever I need to study some concept in electronics. This simple trick has saved me tons of hours. Another example. Maybe you want to make yourself knowledgeable about ISIS. And from your previous experience, you somehow trust articles written by The Guardian. We can logically assume that Guardian could have written some articles on ISIS. So instead of a vanilla search on ISIS, you could query ISIS Guardian.

Google is like that amazingly knowledgeable forager friend of yours. When you ask Google whether it could tell you where to find good apples, Google will rigorously search it's memory and hand you some locations in the jungle. Some of the locations might just have oranges, but let's not blame Google for that. Once we have a good location courtesy Google, it is our responsibility to remember the path to this new apple field. This helps us in building a collection of trusted resources in the jungle - ie it helps us in building a suite of trusted websites with quality information.

We need to start building heuristics to better navigate the internet, to satisfy our appetite for useful information. We need to be The Modern Forager.

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