TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Information Dashboards Rationale

Let us first summarise the discussion leading up to the Information Dashboards, and then we shall consider what lies ahead. Ill begin by condensing my key points in this series so far.

There have been three versions of search engines in the Internets first mass-usage decade. The first search was actually Yahoos directory with sites handpicked by editorsThen, along came Altavista which used a crawler to get web pages and run indexing algorithms on them. This allowed for keyword-based searching Google improved on the relevance of results PageRank technology which ranked pages based on incoming links a measure of authority. From Yahoo to Altavista to Google, the focus has been on providing the most relevant results in the quickest possible time to information-hungry users.

In the five years or so since Googles launch, there have been plenty of new developments in the world and Web around us. The five most important developments in recent times have been: user-generated content, RSS, mobile phones, broadband and internationalisation.

User-generated content: Beginning with do-it-yourself publishing via weblogs to image capture via digital cameras and mobile phones, new content is now being created by millions. While the earlier model was that of a few creating for many, it is now many creating for few.

RSS: 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.

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.

Broadband: What always-on, broadband does is fundamentally change our expectations of content in three ways: the network is always-available and so we turn to it for even the most trivial of queries, the content offering can be beyond text and combine the rich media elements, and it allows consumers to also become producers of content.

Internationalisation: The Internet was for long the domain of the English-speaking developed markets. No longer. Even as content in other languages has grown, we are now seeing millions in countries like China and India get online. English is no longer the first language of the Internet as the non-English-speaking world goes online.

The Four-Web Model: The Search game played so far has only focused on the Reference Web. My Incremental, Archived and Community Webs have yet to be tapped effectively The Reference Web is built on the work of others. The other three Webs (Incremental, Archived and Community) is built by us. The Reference Web is a database of all that has happened (and been published). The other Webs are a snapshot of whats happening more of a real-time datastream rather than a database, more here and now than then and there. The Reference Web is about information. The other Webs are about Events, Insights and Experience. And therein lies the opportunity to build the next-generation search engines.

Tomorrow: Information Dashboards Rationale (continued)

TECH TALK The Future of Search+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.