Techniques To Finding Information On & Off Line.
Whether you are seeking information on or off line you need to ask the right questions to get useful answers.
The more useful answers you get the more right questions you can ask till eventually you get the answer you are looking for.
Let’s look at a situation where a young girl goes missing:
Jean’s mum got worried when 13 year old Jean did not return home from school on a Monday afternoon.
Usually Jean catches the school bus which stops outside her house at 8am. At 4pm the school bus drops her off outside her house.
Jean’s mum and dad both work in their own store – they leave home together at 7.30am and return home together at 6pm.
Jean has her own mobile so that she can call her parents if she misses the bus. Also she routinely calls her mum everyday as soon as she gets home
to let her parents know that she got home OK.
Jean’s mum woke up to the fact that her daughter had not called at 4.45pm on Monday the 15th September 2008.
She called Jean’s mobile and got a message that the phone was switched of or not in service. Jean’s mum – let’s call her Mary then called her home number,
the phone rang out without reply.
Mary now worried told her husband she needed to take the car to check where Jean had got to. Mary’s first stop was at her home and not finding
Jean at home she drove to her school. There was noboddy left at the school. Mary did a fast search of the neighborhood and called Jill, one of Jean’s
closest friends. Jill who lived close to the school, stated she saw Mary catch the bus before walking home that afternoon.
Mary went to the local police station and reported her daughters dissapearance, before going to pick her husband up at the shop.
As they drove home Mary explained to Tom – Jean’s dad – that the police had told her to go home and call them immediately if Jean turned up or contacted her.
The police assured Mary not to get too worried at this point as teenage girls very often get reported as missing only to turn up several hours later after
spending the afternoon with a friend.
Well Jean did not return home and it took Jean’s parents three weeks of bitter anguish waiting patiently for the police to do their work before they
took matters into their own hands and got almost immediate results.
I want to point out here that I am not demeaning the police and strongly recommend that you work with them and not against them.
On the other hand police resources are limited and in some situations you are in a very good possition to actively take part in resolving
these problematic situations.
The techniques for finding information – whether for a missing person, pet or piece of any puzzle is the same:
Ask The Right Questions.
Sometimes – especialy when doing an online search it is important to ask the right questions in the right way.
To start with we may not have a clear idea of what questions to ask. In that case it is good to revert to the old standard and ask yourself
the who, what, where, why, when and how questions. For instance;
Who was the last person to see Jean? We know fron Jill’s account that Jean left on the school bus.
Perhaps the driver can tell us where he dropped Jean off?
So who is the bus driver? A quick inquiry at the school and Jean’s parents had found out the bus drivers identity and address.
They went to see him and asked if he remembered where Jean got off the bus.
The driver told them where Jean had left the bus and told them that he thought she was heading for a popular swimming hole in the bushland
nearby. He told them he deduced she was going swimming as she was carrying a beach towel. He also told them that she was on her own when she left the bus.
Before the parents inquiry the bus driver was not aware that Jean was missing. The driver had gone on holidays the day after Jean’s dissapearence and the police had not questioned him.
The parents now fearful that Jean might have drowned alone at the swimming hole called the police and a search of the area was instituted immediately.
Jeans mobile phone was found in the water but neither Jean or any more of her belongings were found.
The police then did a trace on all of Jeans incoming and outgoing mobile calls. From this information they found that Jean was making and receiving a lot of
calls from a particular person. On further investigation they found Jean at that persons residence.
Jean had made arrangements to go swimming with a delivery man at her school – after spending several hours with the man she decided to stay with him.
She felt her parents would not agree to letting her stay with the man so she decided to dissapear.
Keep your information well organized.
Sometimes searches for information can take years – so it pays to keep your information well documented and organized.
Keep your mind Open for Alternative Answers.
Answers that are a seemingly good fit are not always correct. Just as in a word puzzle – if you can not complete the puzzle, you have probably
filled in the wrong answer somewhere.
Therefore accepting answers on face value can lead you down the wrong path and can hinder the ultimate solution. Helpful people will truthfully
give you information as they remember or perceived it. For instance auntie June may say,
“Oh yes I remember it was a wonderful spring wedding, when your auntie Sue got married.”
When in fact auntie June is remembering someone else’s wedding and Sue got married in winter.
Then their are those people who really have no idea but will give you a made up answer becase they are afraid of looking stupid or forgetful.
And then there are those who want to lead you down the wrong track and simply lie to you.
Still you should not dismiss these people they may give you an unintentional clue. For instance a liar who is trying to steer you in the oposite
direction can be useful, because once you find out that this person is purposely trying to hinder you;
all you have to do is look in the oposite direction for your next clue.
Finding answers Online.
First thing to remember when trying to find something online is that you are talking to a machine. A machine that spiders the WWW. to look for
the keywords you have entered into your search request. You need to be very specific with your request.
For instance; if you do a search for “records” you will get millions of answers as the search engine will find all the references to any phrase with records in it.
That could be sports records, music records, document records, death records, birth records, marriage records, medical records, criminal records, etc., etc.
So if you are looking for a specific record – be specific.
Let’s say I want to find a record that I vaguely remeber reading about in a Sydney Newspaper years ago about the prime minister Menzies.
I could use a search term like this “Sydney Morning Herald + prime minister Menzies”
I just did the search on Google and I got 1 result – the result I wanted. Had I been less specific and just searched for “prime minister Menzies”
I would have had thousands of results to sift through to find that particular article.
There are many search engines and some are designed to do a particular job really well. You will find a discription of these search engines in the the
resources section and in the “About” page on this site.
Also different search engines have different advanced search functions. It pays to read the individual search engines recommendations for their prefered
advanced search functions.