There’s been some buzz around the next phase of search being “real-time”. Read Write Web wrote two articles on instances where Google Search failed to connected to the sought-after info, such as “Gmail down” or the river landing in NYC. While I have been telling folks that 2009 is the year we have a serious Google competitor in search, Jonathan Borthwick lays out the reasoning and fingers real-time search as the challenge for Google.
Gerry Cambell has a nice chart that puts it more prosaically. I like his axes of expressed vs considered and delayed vs instantaneous content. That lays out a spread of types of content out there that one may look for or follow. He sees real-time search of expressed and instantaneous content more in line with how we live our lives and navigate a sea of information.
Yes, I think this is one aspect of where search needs to go, but I am not sure it’s the only piece. Trending and sentiment analysis, for sure, are much better when using expressed and instantaneous info, indeed, I am constantly looking for a tool that can help me with that.
But I feel there are other aspects that need to be fed in. For example, I think there will be a touch of semantic mining to add value to this real-time search. And I think, at some level, the search needs to know who is searching and fold in relevance that way.
Current search seems to miss the semantics and context and personal aspects of the query, aspects that will increase the value of the results.
Furthermore, I do think that while the linear nature of search, and I expect, real-time search, is not ideal, it will still dominate, since it’s easier to build upon an expected mode of interaction and data scanning than to build some fancy (and theoretically more useful) interface to the query results (or at least, that’s one area that I am cautious of pushing for innovation).
As a parting thought, this push for real-time search, I feel, has come from the regular use of live streams of info, live streams that are now overwhelming us and for which we need, you guessed it, new filters. So, I do think, at some level, we’ll have better real-time search tools, if only to allow us to get a good sense of what’s happening in our many incoming lifestreams.
Image from Gerry Cambell