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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mooer's Law

"An information retrieval system will tend not to be not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a customer to have information than for him not to have it." -Calvin Mooer

In chapter 3 of Ambient Findability, Mooer's law makes an appearence. At first I only glanced at it, skimming over the section. But going back over the passage, several ideas and questions were raised.

Firstly being, how did Mooer manage to prove this and make it into a law?

But the other ideas were mainly about how accurate Mooer was. Wasn't I proving his very law by only skimming over the reading in chapter 3? The chapter readily held all this free information, but it was 'troublesome' for me to read it at the time because I wanted to be doing other things.

Mooer is a computer scientist, and I think the internet and computer are prime examples to see his law functioning. On paper, by people having access to all this free and easily found information, it should make people these days a whole lot smarter. I mean, people become more learnt the more school they attend, gaining more knowledge-- so with the internet full of billions and billions and billions of facts and topics to discover, the users these days should be bursting with knowledge.

But I think we all know that's not true. To sit down and comb through all the search engines and all the false leads, and read all the multitude of articles would be more work than the pay-off. It's too troublesome, and it's not used. Just like Mooer stated.

If you think about it, human society is set up to act like that, I just think the creation of computers really helped to magnify it.

Think of the common response when a friend is giving you a long jargon-filled answer. "Speak English!" Or people's natural reactions to skip over reading the agreement contracts and just click 'I Agree', or even not noticing signs at restaurants that state they're out of onions. People like things simple, they don't like a lot of extra information that's going to take them out of their comfort zone, their everyday pattern, something that will make them actively work more.

So even though it's hard to prove, I agree with Mooer's Law.


  1. I really agree with you. I was thinking about this with Google. I have been debating whether or not to try other search engines simply becuase Google has expanded its amount of information so much so that I have trouble using it quickly. They have these lofty goals about how much information they want to put into their engine and about making these human-like computer brain things, and I just wonder if it is really worthe the effort. So i think Moore had an understanding that most of us are just coming to.

  2. The amount of metadata has become ridiculous now a days. With the growth of the online community and everyone migrating to the computer for much of their activities, the amount of information on the internet is obsurd. Making a simple search on Google will likely lead you to hundreds of thousands and millions of different results. There is no way that anybody in their right mind is going to go through all of those. I prefer the smaller search engines that allow you to access more pertinant information in regards to your topic. I believe they narrow your results much more than Google and I believe Google will develop some serious competition in the coming years.