Let’s face it, searching is mostly a waste of time. I don’t like searching the house for my keys, I don’t like searching my closet for the right shirt, and I don’t like searching my systems (or the Web) for information. All of these are a waste of my time.
Let’s examine information search. So I’m getting some work done in some electronic form, say writing this blog, and I realize that I am in need of some information. Now I have to go out to another application (search engine) try to find what I’m looking for, and then transfer that information back to the application I was working in. Does this seem like a good use of time? Not to me. I want the information I need delivered to me when I need it and where I need it. I don’t want to have to look for it. Do you? Then let’s end the search madness and start pushing for something more. This is, for me, the best use case for the semantic Web. Understand what I’m doing and proactively deliver to me the information I need. Of course this requires all applications to be context aware and semantic-enabled (add this to the enablement list; web-enabled, service-enabled, WOA-enabled, mashup-enabled, and social media-enabled).
Some technology providers are getting it. A 2008 Gartner Cool Vendor System One out of Vienna, Austria (www.systemone.net ) was one of the first I’d seen that delivers content in the context of work by combining a wiki offering with a underlying semantic engine that exposed content and people relevant to what the author was writing. GroupSwim (www.groupswim.com) is a Gartner 2009 Cool Vendor that employs semantic constructs to identify relevant community assets and alleviate the search burden. I also recently met with Exalead (www.exalead.com) a “search based applications” technology provider. They have an interesting spin. Why not build purposeful applications that capitalize on information discovery. I use information discovery because I don’t want to lean too heavily on search. With Exalead search is the entry point but the technology also enables rich surfing in a RESTful manner thus enhancing the application navigation experience. Some of you who have heard me speak about Web oriented architecture and RESTful applications know that I use Wikipedia as an example (BTW, notice how RESTful this post is). People land on a Wikipedia page through search but then can experience a rich surfing experience in their knowledge acquisition endeavors. Exalead endeavors to provide all of us with that type of experience around solving business problems.
I know I have harped before about an enterprise over reliance on search as their information discoverability capability with my 5 Ss of discoverability (search, subsetting, surfing, subscribing, and social). I think I might now need to add a 6th S for semantic.
Can you imagine high quality and relevant information delivered to you when and where you need it or even applications that anticipate your information needs? There would be no need to search. What a wonderful world that would be.