Not so much "where did I put my glasses", but "how do I make sure that I find something the next time I'm looking for it online". A piece of it is also "how do other people find it when they're looking for it", but for this exercise it's the personal search pattern and not the global search pattern that matters.
My current workflow admits multiple patterns for doing this, and I suspect that the answer to my question is to do more than one save, depending on how important it is to save something. I'll take them in order.
1. Write something down in my blog. There's only about 2000 posts here, which is much smaller than the size of the net, and so I should be able to refind it if I've blogged about it. The corresponding search is either a keyword search through Google with the refinement "site:vielmetti.typepad.com" or a search through the Typepad dashboard back end.
2. Save it to Pinboard. (Previously, this would have been save it to Delicious). I have about 18000 bookmarks there, mostly from a couple of years ago, and many of them have good tags and good text to search through. Pinboard is a rich source of the sort of stuff I like, but retrieval depends on carefully grooming the tags you apply every time you get back a search.
3. Post to Twitter. Twitter's searching tools are lousy, but I have about 3000 followers, and if I send out anything good chances are someone else will remember it. Twitter is promising a personal search and when they get it the system will seem less write-mostly and will help me figure out which sandwiches I like and which buses have squeaky brakes. As a bonus, my Twitter posts are being archived to Pinboard so there's a fighting chance I can look it up again there.
4. Post to Facebook. Facebook seems to be write-mostly, read-little, but again there's the ever-promising search improvements that will support unlikely syntaxes like "people who like sandwiches who live near Oshkosh". If I ever need to do a search like that, I'm sure I'll find it.
5. Save to Evernote. I only have a tiny amount of stuff there, but it's saving full text of things more so than just pointers, and so the search experience is richer. I wonder if I can coerce Pinboard to do more things so that I'm less tempted by Evernote.
6. Write on Arborwiki, or some other narrowly focused wiki. This works best for things you want to remember that don't have to have your name attached to it. If I'm salting away details about the local environment, Arborwiki has about 10000 existing pages to add to, and that's enough to make it worthwhile to make incremental improvements to.
The common elements here seem to be scale – a system is appealing when it has at least a few thousand elements already in it, but not so huge like Wikipedia where any individual contribution is washed out by the enormity of the whole. It's nice to have non-Google places to put things where the search language and syntax has a bit more finesse, especially if there's a backup plan to use Google as well.
Some additional relevant articles, in addition to the ones below:
Peter Morville's "Search Patterns: Design for Discovery"
Urban Dictionary, "Google your noodle"