Friday, November 14, 2014

Answer: Digging deeply

In this weeks's Challenge I ask you to look a little into the present and past of one such well-known company.  Imagine that you're a reporter and you need to fill in a few of the missing parts of your story.  Can you do this on deadline?  

1.  Is is possible for you to find a relatively recent organization chart for the Xerox company?  (Say, within the past year.)
2.  If so, where does Steve Hoover sit in this organization?  
3.  How many people directly report to him?   
4.  What boards does he sit on?  
5.  What was MY (Dan's) first job after getting my PhD?  
6.  Did Steve Hoover and I ever work at the same place at the same time? 

These questions aren't hard by themselves, but they might require a bit of looking in non-standard places for the answers.  

1.  Org chart?  This isn't hard, but there are lots of ratholes and deadends.  You'd think that the company would provide this in their year-end financial statements, but other that the top level execs, they actually typically don't.  

So to find this I backed up and search for: 

     [ org charts company ] 

which took me to a few sites, none of which were perfect.  The closet one I found was, but their org chart for Xerox was missing a lot of content.  But they were close, so in this case, I changed my search to look for web sites that were similar to Cogmap. I did this with the related: operator. 

     [ ] 

The first hit in the related-sites list is, which had a much more complete orgchart.   In particular, I searched for [ PARC ] on their website: 

 and found this.  

You can also find a much more extensive orgchart for Xerox (not ALL of it, but much larger pieces of the puzzle).  And if you want to spend money, you can get much more detail.  But with just these clues, I can tell you that searches for the VPs can get you pretty much the entire upper level.  

As you can see, Steve Hoover is the CEO of PARC, a wholly owned research arm for Xerox.  

From this chart we can see that at least 8 people report to him.  Note that since this isn't from the company itself, there well could be other people in the organization.  

Now, to get the details of his working career, I wanted to check out LinkedIn--a social network that's commonly used by people in Silicon Valley for professional associations. 

My query for that looked like this: 

I've noticed before that profile pages on LinkedIn have this structure.  That's a perfect clue for using the inurl: operator.  That looks for this string in URls, which in this case gives us his background page, which reveals that he joined PARC in 2011, but also worked at the Xerox Webster Research Center from 2006-2009.  (Remember this.)  

The background page also lists three bo
ards he's on:  Infotonics Technology Center, Rochster Museum & Science Center, and the Rochester Engineering Society.  

Now, can we do the same thing for me?  

The same inurl: trick will work for me, but an easier search might be: 

Why this particular query?  Because in academic circles, a resume is also known as a "curriculum vitae," commonly abbreviated as CV.  Google synonym expansion might have gotten it, but I put in the OR just to be sure.  

I added PARC and Google into the search query because I knew I'd worked both places, and this is a great way to reduce the clutter of spurious Dan Russells.  I have a common name, so any trick you can do to eliminate some of the "off-topic" Dan Russells is a good thing.  

Surprisingly, there are TWO CVs for Dan.  (I honestly had forgotten about one!)  I CMD+Clicked them both so I could see them side-by-side, and noticed that one was last updated in 2008, and the other in 2011.  

But it's clear from the more recent CV that I'd joined Google in 2005, and I've been there ever since (as you well know), so I couldn't have overlapped with Steve at PARC.  

On the other hand, I DID work at the Webster Research Center.  As it says in the older CV, 

 "Prior to PARC, Dr. Russell worked in the Xerox Webster Research Center gaining practical experience in printing systems and computer architecture."  

Which means I worked at Webster before moving to PARC in 1982.  So there's no overlap there either.  

Search Lessons:  

1.  related:  Knowing when and how to use related: can be a real power tool for a researcher.  I used it here when I wanted another site that did more-or-less the same thing (i.e., collected org-charts).  You can also use it to find additional sites that have very similar content (e.g., comic-book collections, etc.) 

2.  Sites for everything!  There actually ARE sites that collect org-charts.  Who knew?  Before doing this problem, I had no idea such things existed, even though I should realize that "this is the Internet... for every thing there is a group of impassioned collectors of those things..."  Org-charts are no different.  

3.  inurl:  If you want the internal structure of the URLs used on websites (e.g.,  you can use that with an inurl: operator to zoom into parts of the site that you want to explore in particular.  This is an example from LinkedIn--other large sites (Amazon, Facebook, etc.) all have similar structures that you can extract and use to focus your search. 

4.  OR  While synonym expansion is great, you won't hurt anything by adding in exactly the synonyms you want.  cv OR resume is a good one to use.  

5.  Look at all the things.  In just a simple scan for my CVs, we found TWO of them from different eras.  One was obviously forgotten (not updated in 6 years??).  Finding things like this is often a gold-mine because you can look at them side-by-side and see what has changed.  In my case, a few things were dropped, mostly as a reflection that those parts of my life weren't as salient any longer to what I was trying to do.  Different people might have different stories, and having multiple versions to compare and contrast can be immensely useful. 

Search on! 


  1. This was a complicated SearchResearch Challenge and at same time full of day to day tools, advice and solutions.

    In this kind of challenge is harder to me, because there is not one answer. We can find many and we, as you mentioned, need to remove those that can not be the correct ones.

    I thought the same about Org Charts. I wanted to search in financial statements or in market operations, specially for big companies like Xerox.

    Search lessons are very helpful. I am sure that they will help a lot in the future. Also, the video you did years ago was great to see changes that technology does with time.

    I'll re-read your answer to discover more tools and information that in one time can be lost.

    Enjoy your weekend, Dr. Russell.

  2. If I had to do it again I believe I would do a spreadsheet showing each year where the two of you worked. I would have seen the need to find other sources to confirm dates. Otherwise keeping track, filling gaps, separating overlaps etc. gets confusing.

    The greater question I have is how did you come up with Steve Hoover. I visualize you at a cocktail party chatting away to Steve and him saying to you "I've known you for so long but did we ever actually work at the same place at the same time?" And your response I imagine was "I'm not sure but that would be a great search challenge on my blog." Am I close?

    Lots of good search tips as usual. Good fun.

    1. So far as I know, I've never met him (although it's possible). I DO know Walt Johnson, though. I does make for a great search challenge, eh?

    2. Hello, Dr. Russell. I was trying new queries: [directing board intext:Xerox] [directing board intext:"Palo Alto Research Center"] and other similar.

      nndb Has lots of information
      Eric E. Schmidt (PARC) Did you know him there?

      Have a great day!

  3. where were all the investigative reporters on this one - seems it would have been right up their alley?
    interesting chat… already racing into the future - wonder if that's Humpty Dumpty up ahead…
    Walt Johnson, VP, Intelligent Systems Laboratory
    Churchill Club
    twit CC
    lollipop, lollipop, ubiquitous computing?