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TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Information Marketplaces

April 7th, 2005 · No Comments

By changing how information is consumed, Information Dashboards will also transform the way information is published on the Web. Consider corporate websites, for example. Little has changed in the past decade on how websites are constructed. They are monolith content systems, and very hard to change. Websites were built for the era where users would get to them mostly by typing in or clicking on a URL. Later, they were optimised for search engine crawlers. Tomorrows websites will need to be built for consumption not via URL-based pull but via RSS-based push.

Tomorrows websites will have two parts: a Wiki-style publishing system which allows for ease of publishing, and a set of RSS feeds which track the changes and make the new content available for distribution. More than site design, it is the content that matters content which needs to be pushed out to interested subscribers in real-time. (Another reason why design is less important is because users view the content in their viewers.)

Once corporate websites start publishing information via RSS feeds and users start consuming it on their dashboards, it will become possible to do matching at the back-end and then alerting users on their dashboards. We are already seeing this happen via next-generation job sites like Indeed.com. This will lead to the creation of information marketplaces.

This is what I had written a couple years earlier:

Imagine if every SME (small- and medium-sized enterprise) can publish an RSS stream (via a weblog) about who they are, their products and services, the new developments at their organisation, their take on industry events, and what they are interested in purchasing. In addition, each of the SMEs should also set up subscriptions based on what they are looking to buy or sell (by keyword or category) or by a company they would like to track.

So, SMEs do what they would anyways do in search of new business opportunities. By making it easier for them to both publish information and subscribe to relevant information, the Publish-Subscribe Web works as a connector, an information market maker. The product in this marketplace is information; the currency is attention.

In a sense, sites like eBay are information marketplaces. They connect buyers and sellers. In an RSS-enabled world, intermediaries like PubSub.com can provide the matching and notification platforms for events and deliver them automatically to information dashboards. In a world of information marketplaces, reputation will matter because that is how spam will need to be tackled. Companies and users will be able to build reputation online by also contributing useful information to the marketplace even as they consume from it. Information marketplaces will help the smaller companies connect with other of their ilk a difficult problem today because neither has enough money to reach the other.

Tomorrow: Memex


TECH TALK The Future of Search+T

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