Then and now. Back when the best you could expect of database searching was using carefully contrived search terms to retrieve data from a flat file over a 300 baud acoustic coupler, users were reconciled to the idea that searching would be a time and attention consuming activity. Modem connectivity, intuitive interfaces and the fact that programmers sometimes now pay as much attention to the needs of the end‐user as to the technical brilliance of the product have given rise to the popular notion that searching can be easy. Databases can be placed in the hands of every employee, every supplier and every customer, and a disconcerting number of pure novices are coming on board and rocking the boat with their expectations. As 64k Inc. points out, ‘it is highly unlikely that these new planet‐wide database users will be attending a class in database searching any time soon. Indeed, many of them will have yet to discover the mysteries of their browser's “back” button.’ It simply cannot be assumed that the end‐user of a database is an experienced information professional.
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