Enterprise Search: What Did Shakespeare Allegedly Write?

November 15, 2021

The statement, according to my ratty copy of Shakespeare’s plays edited by one of the professors who tried to get me out of the university’s computer “room” in 1964, presents the Bard’s original, super authentic words this way:

The play is Hamlet. The queen, looking queenly, says to the fellow Thespian: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Ironic? You decide. I just wanted to regurgitate what the professor wanted. Irony played no part in getting and A and getting back to the IBM mainframe and the beloved punch card machine.

I thought about “protesting too much” after I read “Making a Business Case for Enterprise Search.”

I noted this statement:

In effect you have to develop a Fourth Dimension costing model to account for the full range of potential costs.

Okay, the 4th dimension. Experts (real and self anointed) have been yammering about enterprise search for decades.

Why does an organization snap at the marketing line deployed by vendors of search and retrieval technology? The answer is obvious, at least to me. Someone believes that finding information is needed for some organizational instrumentality. Examples include finding an email so it can be deleted before litigation begins. Another is to locate the PowerPoint which contains the price the now terminated sales professional presented to close a very big contract. How about pinpoint who in the organization had access to the chemical composition of a new anti viral? Another? A shipment went walkabout. Some person making minimum wage has to locate products to be able to send out another shipment.

The laughable part of “enterprise search” is that there is no single system, including the craziness pitched by Amazon, Microsoft, Google, start ups with AI centric systems, or small outfits which have been making minimal revenue headway for a very long time from a small city in Austria or a suburb of the delightful metropolis of Moscow.

The cost of failing to find information cannot be reduced to the made up data about how long a person spends hunting for information. I believe a mid tier consulting outfit and a librarian cooked up this info-confection. Nor is any accountant going to be able to back out the “cost” of search in a cloud database service provided by one of the regulators’ favorite monopolies. No system manager I know keeps track of what time and effort goes into making it possible for a 23 year old art history major locate the specific technical innovation in an autonomous drone. Information of this type requires features not included in Everything, X1, Solr, or the exciting Amazon knock off of Elastic’s follow on to Compass.

Enterprise information retrieval has been a thing for about 50 years. Where has the industry gone? Well, one search executive did a year in prison. Another is fighting extradition for financial fancy dancing. Dozens have just failed. Remember Groxis? And many others have gone to the search-doesn’t-work section of the dead software cemetery.

I find it interesting that people have to explain search in the midst of smart software, blockchain, and a shift to containerized development.

Oh, well. There’s the Sinequa calculator thing.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2021


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