TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Whats Changing (Part 2)

2. RSS

RSS is about syndication and subscription. RSS, which means Rich Site Summary (or Really Simple Syndication), is a format for making content available in a language (XML) which a computer program can read and process. RSS can be used for making available incremental updates available. Interested users can subscribe to be alerted when the updates are available, and can view the updated content in an RSS Aggregator.

Mark Pilgrim wrote about RSS in 2002: RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. But it’s not just for news. Pretty much anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS: the “recent changes” page of a wiki, a changelog of CVS checkins, even the revision history of a book. Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

Brad Feld wrote recently: In the early 1990’s, SMTP enabled a raft of companies that built businesses around all aspects of Internet-based email. Shortly thereafter, HTTP enabled – well – an entire industry. SMTP and HTTP are really simple protocols (and – when they were first created – had a slow initial commercial adoptions that suddently went non-linear and became pervasive.) We are seeing exactly the same thing with RSS – and blogging is simply the first broad-based instantiation.

In the past couple years, there have been a number of RSS-based search engines: Feedster, PubSub and Technorati are some examples.

3. Mobile Phones

The PC is now no longer the only personal device in our lives. The mobile phone has usurped the personal space. Mobile phones are moving beyond just voice communications and becoming part of the primary information platform in our lives. 600 million phones were sold globally in 2004 (as compared to about 200 million computers). For many, the phone is the only device that they have in the emerging markets, the mobile phone is going to become the platform for both communications and computing.

Ramesh Jain wrote recently about home mobile phones is really a personal computer and communicator.

The quality and functionality of mobile phones keeps on improving at a rapid rate. Combine this with the increasing availability of video content on phone and increasing bandwidth, and you clearly see what will be the real multimedia client for information and communication technology.

I do believe that for many reasons, mobile phones are real PCs (Personal Computer) or really PCC (Personal Computer and Communicator). Currently computers have evolved to be the most common means for ICT (information and communication technology). This was natural because ICT evolved out of computing. Now we are at a very important point in the evolution of mobile phone technology. Due to miniaturization of sensors, processors, and storage, it is becoming possible to bring enough computing power in mobile phones. This computing power is definitely not comparable to today’s computers, but definitely can be compared favorably with lap top computers of a few years ago. The more important thing is that the computing power is becoming enough to utilize mobile phones as a powerful client, more powerful than traditional clients of modern road warriors the lap top computer. Why do I think that it will is a better device to replace a lap top for many uses?

Are there any inherent limitations in phones? I really dont think so. The screen size is the one that people will mention. I think that in future screens will be very good quality, of course they will be smaller than your media room’s 65 inch TV, but for mobility I am willing to settle for a smaller screen as long as it gives me good quality video. And that is already started it is not yet there but will be there soon.

As we shall see later, the personal, always-available and always-on nature of mobile phones will change our expectations of search in very interesting ways.

Tomorrow: Whats Changing (continued)

TECH TALK The Future of Search+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.