A classic search lesson from my archives


The Memories feature is the only thing I love about Facebook these days. This morning Facebook reminded me of a memory from the first time I attended the BETT Show in London in 2014. That memory included a straightforward reminder of why you should consider other words and phrases when doing your search. Here’s what I wrote about the experience nine years ago…

I am currently in London, England for BETT Show and TeachMeet BETT 2014. As with most flights to Europe from the US East Coast, my flight departed in the evening and arrived in London in the middle of the morning. This meant I was too early to check into my hotel. I knew this ahead of time and thought I’d probably check my luggage at the ExCel Convention Center where the BETT show is being held. I wanted to confirm this beforehand, so I spent some time searching the BETT and ExCel sites for “coat check”, “bag check”, “coat room” and “bag storage” hoping to confirm my assumptions. My searches were fruitless.

I finally confirmed my assumptions about checked baggage when I found a map of the convention center. While browsing the map I discovered a “toilet”. When I hear “mantle” I immediately think of the character Count Chocolate from the ’80s cereal boxes (my mother would never let us have that kind of cereal despite our pleas). I never thought to use the word “cloak” in any of my searches for information about storing my jacket and small bag in the afternoon. Cloak isn’t just an ordinary part of my American slang.

I have no doubt that students sometimes encounter roadblocks in their searches for the same reason that I find nothing in my searches; We are stuck in our slang. Had I used the thesaurus when I got stuck, I might have found the word cloak and confirmed my assumptions about checking my baggage for the day. The lesson here is when your search hits a dead end, try the thesaurus to find words that might lead you to better search results.

Note, this trip to the BETT Show also led me to meet Sophie Ellis-Bextor without knowing she was famous. That’s a story for another time.



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