As we look at the attributes of the next Indian Search Engine, there are two principles from open-source software development which we should keep in mind: user customisability and distributed collaboration. These two ideas have laid the foundation for the development of Linux and various other software applications by thousands of committed individuals worldwide. Well see how we can leverage these ideas to build the Next-generation Indian Search Engine (NISE).
Beyond Google: There is no point in trying to replicate what Google has. The goal should be to do what Google is not able to do. So, rather than trying to crawl millions of pages and try and run PageRank-like algorithms, the focus should be on trying to working around Google, not trying to compete with it.
Multi-Word Search: This idea stems from the Unix shell and command-line interface. The goal for NISE should be to provide precise results based on what the user wants. For this, the user should be given a single interface which provides a window on other specific websites. For example, a search for films Mumbai should be able to provide a list of the theatres. This is what Google is trying to do in the US context it should be possible to quite effectively create a language for search.
Not One Directory: The Web has become too big for one directory to hold all the information. Instead, users should be given a platform to create their own directories on topics which they understand. Using OPML, it should be possible to create an infinite network of transcluded distributed directories.
Better Visualisation: Amazingly, it is only now that ideas from information visualisation (for example, Groxis) are making their way for viewing of search results. By clustering results and providing visualisation techniques, it should be possible to provide rich interfaces for navigation.
Mobile Devices Search: The current search results are best shown on a web browser. Yet, in countries like India, the number of mobile devices outnumber the computers. So, the focus should be on how NISE can provide accurate results for what users want to do in the form of microcontent that can be sent and displayed on mobile devices.
Local Focus: NISE needs to have a local focus. Much of our life is spent in neighbourhoods. It is quite hard to find local information in the vicinity of where we live and work. NISE should focus on providing a platform for local providers to update content which can then be distributed to interested users in the neighbourhood via RSS.
Target SMEs: The big set of enterprises which need a vehicle to reach their customers are the SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises). NISE must cater to this set of advertisers. They have very few alternatives to reach out to users yellow pages, local banners, flyers in newspapers. Giving them a cost-effective electronic delivery vehicle for as low as Rs 50-100 a day can provide a win-win service for connecting consumers and local, small businesses.
Context: Googles focus is on providing the same, consistent results irrespective of who does the search. NISE should focus on leveraging context and personalization by knowing more about the user, it should be possible to provide more accurate information, and not just links to tens of thousands of pages.
Tomorrow: The Next Indian Search Engine (continued)
TECH TALK Rethinking Search+T