Beyond Yahoo and Google

Ramesh Jain writes about the quest for the next new leaps in search technologies:

The opportunity I am referring to is emergence of the next generation of portals or desktops or . Current desktops and portals are all oriented towards information gleaned from alphanumeric data and text. We have all become very used to a small slot where we can type in keywords to get pointers to a list of sources that could, hopefully, provide us information that we are looking for. We are all learning the game of thinking about the new keyword combination to express what we are looking for when our first try is not satisfactory. In fact, most of the time people say, I did not use right keywords. I find it very interesting that the same people who normally blame others for everything are willing to accept blame so easily.

Interestingly all popular search sites provide some variation of image search and music search. But this search is also based on the same keyword slot and results in a similar list of potential sources. What is more interesting is that some sites want to be Google (or Yahoo) of Multimedia and they also rely completely on the keyword slot. Moreover, their search is based on the meta data associated either with the names of the files, the sources from where they get the data or on transcribed speech component of the data. Their results for the applications they are addressing are not bad. Moreover, I believe that they can get some more mileage out of this approach, which is fundamentally clever extension of current techniques and current environments.

All the signs are that our society is progressing from information and communication technology, so called ICT, to insight and experience technology. We are seeing signs of multimedia everywhere starting from camera phones to home systems to link all your entertainment systems. Interestingly, computer as well as PDA manufacturers now try to sell their systems by emphasizing image, audio, and video based capabilities. Of course printer manufacturers have been hoping that everybody will start printing lots of pictures contributing to their profits.

So this is the case where hardware and infrastructure has progressed faster than the basic tools. This was the case in the early days of PCs as well as World Wide Web. In the first case Apple and Microsoft took the lead to provide tools that contributed to enormous growth of the industry. In the later, it has been Yahoo and Google who provided tools allowing WWW to become what it is today. In both these cases, if these tools were not provided, the technology will not progress very fast.

The question now is: Can one of the existing companies provide those tools? Or will a new company will bring their insight, innovation, and energy to help us gain insights and experience different things using all the infrastructure that is already getting in place?

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.