TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Memex

The combination of RSS, OPML and Information Dashboards will also bring to life an old idea the Memex, first proposed by Vannevar Bush in 1945. I wrote about Constructing the Memex two years ago:

Each of us creates a weblog and a personal directory (MyMemex). In fact, for each of our interest areas, we should create a separate page with its own blogroll and directory. This is used to help focus the results that we will get on our Mirror Blog.

On a regular basis, we go about updating our weblog. New inputs can come from our own thinking, emails that we get or write, documents that we receive or create, web pages and blog posts that we see and like, subscribed RSS feeds coming in to our mailbox, and perhaps inputs from digital cameras.

As each of us updates our MyMemex or the GroupMemex for the communities that we belong to, the interactions of the Memex with the rest of the ecosystem will result in the constant updation of the MirrorBlog, which will point us to people, ideas and information that could be of use to us. It also captures the state of the world (for example, the days headlines and weather) to give a context to the thinking that is happening.

One can think of the Mirror Blog as a blogdex for our neighborhood. The current Blogdex (and Daypop) sites show whats popular across the world of bloggers. More often than not, we are not as much interested as what is being discussed by the rest of the world. Our interest is likely to be greater to see what is being discussed by our friends, and their friends. It is this neighbourhood context that the Mirror Blog will focus on.

We can also go to someone elses Mirror Blog. For example, if you know that I write on information management, if you are keen to get the wider context on information management, you may decide to come and see the Mirror Blog for my information management category on my weblog. It is not something you may do everyday, but every once in a while to keep yourself abreast of the most recent happenings in the space.

Some of the underlying ideas to execute the Memex may have changed, but the building blocks remain the same blogs, RSS and OPML. What is different is how we assemble these elements together. There is little doubt in my mind that the Web is due for an upgrade given the spurt in user-generated (folk) content and the rise of mobile phones. The Memex is what will emerge as Information Dashboards and Marketplaces become more popular. Thus, the future of Search lies in it enabling the creation of these new platforms to help us tackle a problem which has been with us for a long time lot of information and limited time. Finally, we have the tools at hand to tackle the challenges. Smarter Search is just a beginning, and the Memex is the endgame. Information Dashboards and Marketplaces make up the middle.

TECH TALK The Future of Search+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.