The paradox of the web is that one must write the thing for which you search. I am repeatedly confronted with this in my work, and it is part of why I blog technical information: I know I will want to search for it later. And, in knowing that I will want to search for it, I know that it is being sought by others. Another way of saying this is that the web is what we write.
I was reminded of this today while speaking with a student that is working on an interesting project related to Firefox. He was feeling somewhat frustrated about the lack of content on the web related to his work. After a 30 minute discussion on irc, in which he met two Mozilla developers who took him through a large part of the solution to his problem, he felt content to move forward. So I asked him, “are you going to blog what you just learned?” His response was less than I’d hoped for: “I’ll have to see if I’m allowed to do that.” I’m not sure I ever fully succeed in showing him that the only way information gets onto the web is if someone writes it. The fact that there is no one writing what you need, yet there are people telling you what you want to know, that’s enough to close the loop. The only step left is to transcribe what you learned.
When you do a search, and it comes back with no results, it’s a sign that you need to write something.