Some logistics first!
I have to apologize for the dearth of posts lately. I have been getting down to a lot of back-end tweaking on this site, couple that with a cloud confusion over the transfer of my domain name and the likes… equates to a lot of mental hair pulling and bug fixing. I love technology, but it doesn’t work all the time.
Still, thank you for being patient and of course, for reading!
I’d like to invite you to update your bookmarks to point to http://www.dorothypoon.com
and your RSS feeds to http://www.dorothypoon.com/feed/
because all the old links are now defunct. Hopefully that will iron out any of the remaining kinks!
…on to the post! 🙂
Everything is searchable nowadays.
Maybe it’s how Google perpetually surfaces in the news, maybe it is how search permanently ingrained into my browsing habits. I thought it would be cool to dig into the search world, since we basically can’t quite escape this function when we’re on the internet. If we’re not accessing search engines on the web, we probably have some form of search built right into our web browsers.
What then, does this mean for the content that ‘s out there?
Blogs v.s Discussion Forums
In the pre-social networking site days, community used to be largely confined to a discussion forum, where typically one has to log in (first barrier of entry) to read or comment, and more often than not, forget their log in details once the discussion is over (a second negative point). It doesn’t help that search engines do index content from some forum threads, but it is highly annoying for visitors to click on a link from a serach page, only to find that the main forum content is private and sign up is required. The behaviour that this outcome is likely to elicit is to hit that close window/close tab function and find content that is more easily accessible.
Public blogs on the other hand are indexed on search engines like Google – even if you have forgotten some of your old posts, Google doesn’t forget. Blogs are easily searchable, and and typically require no log-ins, just your minimum details if you wish to leave a comment.
Of course, going by the saying that there are markets in everything as postulated from the guys over at Marginal Revolution (which I will plug because they constantly talk about interesting topics), I was curious as to what the situation was like with discussion forums right now. Are discussion forums more searchable now, and what is their current relationship with the search engines?
Sure enough, we currently have Twing.com – “a powerful new search engine dedicated to finding information within forums and communities“. It’s a promising idea, but the site frequently lags for me, and does not always turn in useful results. Ironically, clicking on the “How to use Twing” section brings up…a blank page. Apparently, they have tools for brand managers to generate graphs and monitor online brand conversations, but…I can’t seem to find it easily. So the verdict is.. cool concept, but not that great (yet). Well. Sometimes you’re just part of something that starts a revolution (like how Netscape revolutionalized internet browsing…well where are they now?). But even that might be stretching it a little in this case.
Micro Blogging Search
Some good stuff for Twitter at http://search.twitter.com/
and http://www.tweetscan.com/ ,which has the added functionality of allowing you to search by Twitter username.
Look, with a name that is synonymous with search, it is impossible not to mention these guys (and as you’ve noticed by now their name has been liberally sprinkled all over this post!). Lets not talk about their basic search engine or search bar, Google Insights has been used from anything to compare the changing trends in political inclinations to brand management, to gaining more understanding about users.. which makes it a pretty powerful tool in itself, and no less than what we’ve come to expect from the Googlers. Good stuff!
The title sums it up! Sometimes, certain sites are down and I notice an influx of questions on the various community sites. “Is (site name here) down??”
I really like this one, but I have to admit, while it is cool, I have not developed the habit of running to this site when sites are not working.
I am (and I believe many others too) still more likely to whine about site downtime either on Facebook, MSN status messages, Twitter, or Plurk.
Search and Habit
Which brings me to another point. I believe search is intrinsically tied in to habit.
We return to our favourite search engine out of sheer habit and familiarity, and once that habit is formed, we are not inclined to switch easily.
Same goes for our habits to obtain information. An increasingly large number of people are getting “too lazy to even Google” and would rather post a question to their online communities and get responses from “familiar” faces (or even random strangers) that they have interacted with in the past. We are, after all, inherently social in nature.
It is interesting of course, that people are so willing to trust in the opinion of these “experts”, instead of an official site from a more trustworthy source. It is also interesting that they are willing to wait for a response, when a quick search on Google would have been much faster (and also more likely to turn up a more relevant and accurate result).
There are several issues in this. Search engines have to constantly monitor the behavioural habits of users and update their search algorithums to most accurately predict what people are looking for. Those in the search industry have to figure out how their product can become a part of people’s habits. Content providers have to deal with the issue of making themselves as searchable as possible. For the rest of us who use the search function, discernment about the reliability about our sources of information is a growing concern. How do you know who (or what site) to trust?
The Future of Search
I guess people are obsessed with finding out where trends are going, what the future entails. If I could throw in some keywords, I would say that search is going to become increasingly digital, accessible anywhere, mobile, multi-platform, intuitive, user friendly, and most importantly, a ubiquitous feature in our lives.
I thought it would be apt then, to highlight these wonderfully executed pieces that contemplate the future of what search could be.
Mobile Search Functions
A cool dictionary concept!
Directions to your destination.
Search beyond Time.
Data transfer to the iphone!
While they are only figments of a very innovative mind of the author at petitinvention, it seems to me that he has a keen understanding of the typical user’s needs. Couple that with some mad technical skills and you get pictures of prototypes such as these – flawlessly executed, amazing conceptual pieces that you have to see in their entirety to truly appreciate. These works come in a seven part series, eight, if you count in the Iphone concept.
Hope you enjoy them!
Tags: search, innovation, web2.0, google, twing, microblogging, petitinvention, iphone, time, search engines, web, internet, psychology, habit, blogs, discussion forums,