Enterprise Search: Floundering Fish Update

October 29, 2011

I saw a comment from one expert who thought I misspelled flounder. Nope, I know a flounder is a fish; namely, any of various marine flatfishes of the families Bothidae and Pleuronectidae, which include important food fishes, according to the Free Dictionary. But who can trust fee, anyway?

Flounder, however, has another meaning; namely, to make clumsy attempts to move or regain one’s balance. Again, that free source.

What I found interesting is that one of the readers of my free Web log wanted me to know that I really, honestly, truly must have meant founder as in “sinking below the surface” or “to stumble,” not the word I used, flounder.

Well, bless my local sushi joint. I was thinking about fish. Even a goose like me knows that most fish out of water have some challenges. I did briefly think of the word “founder”, but I preferred the fish word for three reasons:

First, it has a metaphorical ring. There is the suffocation thing. I also like the faint echo of “fish like relatives stink after three days,” but I would update to “real consultants like fish stink after three days.”

Second, I could indulge in a bit of graphic whimsy; for example:

Third, like the entire notion of search vendors gasping for revenue the way a fish moves its gills in an attempt to survive when the fishing boat docks and the catch is up for auction.

I will stick to my metaphor the way sticky rice adheres to tuna at Tea Station Restaurant, which is down the road a “fur piece”. (Please, don’t correct my Kentucky-ism.) I am delighted someone stands ready to correct my word choice in my free blog. Did I mention my and free? I am even more impressed when a variant of flounder without the fishy bit is presented as what I really meant.

Nope, “real” consultant, I meant what I wrote. By the way, I did okay on the vocabulary section of my SAT, in 1961, thank you.

Here’s a useful fish reminder: ““When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” Maybe I should extend the “flounder” metaphor to the self appointed search experts, failed Webmasters who know about knowledge management, and “real” journalists who pray that the iPad will pull newspapers and magazines out of hot water? Think lobster. Dead lobster.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com, a publisher in Norway which understands the way of the herring.


2 Responses to “Enterprise Search: Floundering Fish Update”

  1. Seth Grimes on October 29th, 2011 3:54 pm

    You mistake omission of a letter due to quick typing — the same sentence, embarrassingly, had “senesce” rather than “senescence” — for commentary.

  2. Abe Lederman on October 31st, 2011 6:51 am


    I just want to let you know that I enjoyed your blog post last week on Enterprise Search: The Floundering Fish as well as several other of your recent posts on the state of Enterprise Search. I totally agree with your assessments that all these search systems are pretty old technology and that search hasn’t fundamentally changed since I co-founded Verity in the late eighties. I am a subscriber to Beyond Search and skim through your email first thing in the morning.


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