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Books & Articles I wrote.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Search for Search

Around 10 minutes ago i finished reading "The Search" by John Battelle.

Update : I just discovered that Scoble had the same idea that more could be added to the book in terms of where things are going. More here.

I really enjoyed the book. Some have said it doesn't go deep into search technology itself, but i actually enjoyed some of the background into how the search companies came to be and having went from lycos to altavista and then google it was fascinating as i could relate back to my experiences. I was even able to recall quite vividly the University days on the Sun Sparcs when no real search facility existed and the very, very eary days of a directory structure by the founders of Yahoo. I never started using internet technologies until around 1991 (when i started at at university and go really bored with a Physics class i was attending) - so the book is one of the I have read that co-incided quite well with my own experiences.

Now, my interest in in Semantic Search and this was only briefly touched on near the end of the book and I do feel there is a lot than can be said about the area - it was covered in less than 15 pages. The possibilities of Semantic search are huge and over the years (it was the first thing i started thinking about it when i discovered Xml in 1998) I have started to see platforms to semantic search - from the current Google style to the ultimate typed universe whjere everything has a URI. This may be useful as a follow on paper, but i really do think there is a lot of phase transitions between the progression from Google to taghop/furl/delicious to semantic web concepts. Vertical Search is one of them, but how long before we need a search engine to find oneof the millions of vertical search engine so that we can then perform a query?

It's maybe not a book, but i'd like to see some of the great minds in search and related areas come together for a collaborative discussion and paper on how things could progress. The book was very well researched and layed out, yet i still get the impression that noone really knows (or understands) where search may next go. It is said to be only 5% complete, but little is said about the other 95% - thisis where it could be very interesting indeed.

A final point. John mentions in his Epilogue about his clickstream as he tried to understand the meaning begind "immortality" (weird - i did the same search, and got the same results, but with a Wikipedia entry which may have been useful to him). However, i do believe much of what comes from a clickstream is tacit - there is meaning in it, but at the moment it is some collective meaning in the person who mined the links rather than the aggregated content. Enter taghop.

A major reason i started taghop was to capture this kind of tacit information - what meaning was derived from this clickstream - what conclusions can you say and references to the sites you used. As muchas the clickstreams are useful, i don't believe that search technology will be able to derive this kind of human understanding anytime soon.

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