The needle in a haystack problem

I’m having real trouble with the interface between gmail and Apple mail. So is Megan. My plea for insight and help is right here. Basically, once in a while, it skips some mail.

Forum posts have not been successful at troubleshooting this. I have no doubt that this blog post will find the person insightful, smart and kind enough to tell me what to do.

Which leads to the point of the post: what if you don’t have a popular blog?

How do you find that one person in the wide wide world that has the answer to your question, whatever your question might be?

Google is amazing partly because it goes so far in helping with the haystack problem. Want a part for your 1957 drill press? You can find it on Google.

But Google doesn’t help with finding experts when the problem is hard to define, or when interactivity is required. And just about any solution you can dream up has a friction problem: once the system is in place, it will get used too much, by too many questioners, and suddenly it won’t be interesting enough for the masses to listen. For example, Craigslist suffers from a decreasing signal to noise ratio (it’s a lot less fun to browse than it used to be).

Let’s say, for example, I was an executive recruiter. Surely, I would benefit from interrupting every person on the planet to advertise a great new job. But I couldn’t do it every day or every hour…

Part of the success of Facebook is that for your group of friends, you do get that ability (at least until they stop being your friends). But the laws of information make it clear that it doesn’t scale.

No, there isn’t an obvious answer. But yes, it’s a universal problem. Worth a think when you get a chance.