February 28, 2007

Your search requests answered

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 28, 2007 7:09 PM

Today's amusing search request: should I make an outline slide for my APS march meeting talk?

My physics category archive is the second hit for this search in Google. This is a surprising query to see from (presumably) a physicist: an overspecific question phrased in standard English is not the most well-formed Google search. (Some search engines are designed to take queries in this form, but Google is not one of them.) Nevertheless, the searcher lucked out: the fifth hit is a set of slides on giving good scientific talks.

I'll answer the question anyway in case anyone else is wondering. If it's an invited talk, the answer is almost certainly yes—a 30-minute talk will cover enough different points that an outline at the beginning will help the audience follow the transitions. If it's a contributed talk, with only ten minutes of material it may not be necessary. If the talk divides nicely into multiple distinct sections, it's a good idea, but if it's centered on a single result you probably don't need it.

Tags: Academia, Physics, Search Requests
Comments

For 10 minute talks, I almost never make an outline just because I have so little time anyway and I am always fighting the temptation to include too much information.

As for queries of the form mentioned above, I've actually tried them on occasion and sometimes been successful. (I only try them if I can't think of a shorter set of words that encompasses what I am trying to find.)

Were you able to identify the school from whence the query came?

Posted by: Mason | February 28, 2007 8:20 PM

I imagine that (some? many? a few? all?) searches like that are using Google as a modern Magic 8-ball.

The word order and association is actually meaningful to Google, interestingly enough. As an example, googling for "prune bag" and "bag prune" return the same matches but in a different order. That was the first pair of words that came to mind, sosumi.

Posted by: Lemming | March 1, 2007 2:46 PM

Today, a google search for "tactless seminar speaker" reached my web page, so at least somebody was successful.

Posted by: Mason | March 1, 2007 3:40 PM
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