free html hit counter The World Post-Google | John Battelle's Search Blog

The World Post-Google

By - February 15, 2004

The Washington Post prints something of a Sunday rumination on how search engines might evolve, a rather flippant piece of magazine writing that reads like a poorly edited Wired rant from the early days (I should know). Overall the piece bothers me – it takes search seriously in word, but the tone finds a way to be dismissive at the same time, and only gives a cursory answer to the question it sets up (what might search look like in the future). The set up illustrates what I mean:

Only now in the bright light of the Google Era do we see how dim and gloomy was our pregooglian world. In the distant future, historians will have a common term for the period prior to the appearance of Google: the Dark Ages.

Well, in fact, I’ll warrant that when historians look back at this era, they’ll disagree. But enough about that. The piece does provide an interesting signpost of popular culture: our most respected institutions of journalism are trying to make sense of this phenomenon as more than just a business story. Thank God.

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2 thoughts on “The World Post-Google

  1. standa says:

    Come on the piece wasn’t that bad and you’re being too dismissve and arrogrant.

    Here’s the key nugget which the writer got right

    Google is great for finding specific facts in short chunks, but lousy at providing larger context and meaning.

    And I liked this vignette…

    For example, Saffo isn’t really interested in the stuff that most people look for when they do a Web search. He’s one of the premier futurists of Silicon Valley and fondly recalls the days, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the pre-Web era, when the Internet was the reserve of the technological elite who posted their brilliant thoughts on electronic bulletin boards. Now, everyone from about third grade up has an e-mail address and loiters around the Web as though it’s the corner 7-Eleven. The results of a Web search reflect the tastes of a broad swath of ordinary Americans who in some cases are still wearing short pants.

    “The more people get on the Web, the more the Web becomes the vaster wasteland that is the successor to the vast wasteland of television. I don’t care what the majority of people are looking at, because the majority of people are really boring,” Saffo says.

    He needs a better search engine. He needs one that knows that he’s a big-brain tech guru and not an eighth-grader with a paper due.

  2. Tony O'Driscoll says:

    Think the last sentence here is the most salient. People do not want to search they want to find. When the search engine knows more about the person inputting the keywords it can then present a “Faceted Find”..kind of like Vivisimo,but the folders are based on the profile of the user who interacted with the search service. This is the vision for second generation portals. The person, just like content is tagged which facilitates the brokering and flow of information since the nodes in the network(digital proxies of people’s attributes) provide added context to refine the search and thus add more value in what is presented.