Persistent and Proactive Search

WSJ writes:

Persistent search and similar technologies are a new breed of Web-watching software that identifies new information on the Internet by making use of feeds provided by Web sites and technology that continually scans Web sites. When the software comes up with an interesting nugget — from government or company Web site, a message board or a blog — it automatically alerts users.

Investors can customize searches to match specific references to companies or sectors they’re interested in. Their goal is to see information and make a trade before anyone else does.

Here’s how it works: Many Web sites — especially blogs — alert aggregators such as PubSub, Feedster or Bloglines when new content appears on their site or in an RSS feed from the site. The new content is scanned for matches with keyword searches provided by users, who track the results using desktop tools or by checking the aggregator’s Web site.

Persistent-search software also seeks out information on its own, without the aid of alerts or RSS feeds. The software continually monitors the content on sites that may be of interest — such as corporate Web sites. When the software recognizes new information that matches a keyword, it notifies the user by updating a personalized Web page. That can be useful, for instance, if a company issues a news release a few moments earlier than it appears on news services.

On a related point, Ramesh Jain writes:

I think, and strongly agree with Bob [Wyman] on this point, that proactive search is going to be at least as important as retroactive just in a few years. Currently we only hear about retroactive search because the evolution of technology allowed first to deal with data that had been stored and there are many immediate applications of those. Now with internet evolving to have increasing number of sensors ranging from RFIDs to high quality video cameras the data and information landscape is rapidly changing. On considering the trajectory of the technology evolution, deployment, and human desire, it is obvious that at one time people were happy to get a report written by somebody on an event even after a few days after the event; now they want immediate information and experience of the event. Most people want to see images and video of the event rather than just verbal or written reports. This is because they want to experience the event. At one time it was enough to gain some high-level information, but now that appears inadequate and insufficient. Now we want to experience it through rich sensory data. In many cases, people want to see video with augmented reality using other sensors. Efforts to bring multiple perspective interactive video and immersive video in which people can experience an event from their perspective are just around the corner in research circles.

When Internet starts containing all these things, people will want to experience events of their choice. They will not be searching for pages, but monitoring, tracking, and prospecting for events of interest and for those events they will not be just satisfied by the link to an event, but will want a personalized experience of the event through multiple sensory mechanisms.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.