If you have a question about anything… ask Data. No matter what the issue is, whether it is about a particular culture, about a ship’s design, or some totally obscure, Captain Picard always looks to Data for the answer. And every time Data says “One moment please” or “Executing query” and then about two seconds later, miraculously Data has the answer.
Now, granted Data is an android, and is able to find this information practically at warp speed (yes… pun intended) but this is basically the process a reference librarian would go through in order to find information for a patron. First the patron would have an information request, would then ask the librarian to find the information for them, the librarian then determines how to execute the query, and where to look for the information. Finally, after all of that……the librarian finds the answer for the patron, and makes sure it is exactly what they were looking for.
I can’t help but wonder if Data goes through this process in a split second before finding the answer. Does he have to sit there an think…what search term should I use for this query? Which thesaurus should I use? Which database would best help me answer this question? Doe he have one big database, or is it multiple databases and he simply conducts a meta search? Does he have an interface that he looks at when conducting the search? Or do his thoughts just simply convey the message? And… last, but not least…….. Does he utilize Boolean Operators?
As we have seen with searching, sometimes that human element is necessary for conducting a successful search, especially since language can be completely ambiguous at times. I wonder if his need and desire to become human allow him to also have the human element we all possess, that machines simply do not.
Most people simply see an android who wants to be human when they look at Data. Me on the other hand?!? I see a reference librarian who is able to accommodate almost any information need. I wonder…since there is only one Data (of course, he had brothers, Lor and B4, but Lor was evil, and B4 just a prototype that was not on par with Data) what other ships do instead. I wonder… do they have just one reference librarian, or a team of reference librarians to satisfy the information needs of the crew. I don’t think they could survive intergalactic travel without one us. Who knows… may be one day, we will see a need for space travelin’ librarians…