Algorithms vs. Humans

As librarians, we here in the Robinson Music Library specialize in the search for information to fit our patrons’ needs. As human beings, we have unique attributes that make our search quality a bit more tailored to a unique individual like yourself rather than those of a search engine that are run by intricately developed algorithms. These algorithms are tailored on your past search history as is more and more of your web experience creating the Big Brother scenario Mr. Pariser discusses above in the TED video. However, that is not to say human librarians don’t approach search without our own filters that derive from our personal knowledge base. One librarian might be familiar with just the right database to suit someone’s needs whereas another might have just read an article about another resource that might fulfill a search request in a different manner (another reason why we here in the RML pride ourselves on keeping up to date with technology while not ignoring the tried and true paper resources that have existed for years). In fact, we even use search engines like Google sometimes to get a sense of what is out there. But that’s not where we stop nor should it be. One search leads to another and to yet another, a difficult thing to accept sometimes in this era of instant now. Isn’t the journey just as valuable, if not more, than the end result?


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