Disclaimer: You are about to read an article championing the much-maligned process of filtering documents using keywords — not au courant in an era when excitement over algorithms rules the day. Nevertheless, it is my strong belief that the concept of using keywords as a tool to help locate the documents that matter is spot-on; it is the execution and the expectations that are spotty.
Undoubtedly the typical method for developing keywords (a thesaurus, a yellow pad and a cup of coffee) has become outdated. Today’s document collections are just too big for this approach. When volumes are large, precision and completeness matter. It is too easy to sweep in a load of nonrelevant documents or, even worse, exclude a substantial number of relevant documents. But these shortcomings are related to the method of developing keywords, not to the efficacy of the underlying theory.