[Digital nations in the making: Update Page 132 – Search technology]

I wrote in my last blog (9th September) about the use made by Google and others of algorithms in search technology. But wouldn’t it be useful I thought, after completing it, to have a straightforward article explaining exactly what algorithms are and do.

Well I wasn’t the only one because last week’s Economist (13 September) provides exactly that in its three page article, Business by numbers. From distributors to retailers, from airports to booksellers, from carriers to call centres, organisations are using algorithms to crunch masses of data to come up quickly with answers to complex questions.

If amazon.com can use algorithms to tell me other books I might like to buy, maybe adult education bodies or universities could use algorithms to inform their learners of other courses or books they might be interested in after entering a chosen subject.

It’s not happening yet, but don’t let this put you off. With so much data out there, algorithms are ‘bound to take over the world’, according to Mike Lynch, head of software developer Autonomy, which specialises in automated personalisation. Find out more before it happens!