Had a nice chat Friday with Raymie Stata, of Stata Labs. Several folks reccommended I speak to him for my book, and I’m happy I did. Stata is the man behind Bloomba, a search-based email client, but he has broader ideas about where search is going, and how it will play out on the desktop and beyond.
Stata has worked at the Compaq Research Labs and the Internet Archive, among others, and he’s well versed in the meta concepts of search. He points out that search is not really the big trend of the decade, it’s the proliferation of data in the first place. I quite agree, search is our response to the extraordinary info-abundance in which we’re all awash. Stata is particularly interested in the “my stuff” problem – integrating search into what we believe is “our” information, and designing interfaces that take that point of view out to the web.
“I see search as falling behind,” Stata told me. “So much is accessible now.” He continued: “I don’t see how traditional search – crawl, take a 2.5 word query, and display ten results – can get much better.”
Stata believes search has a user interface problem, to put it rather simply. In this space and elsewhere folks have pointed out the now careworn (among Searchblog readers, anyway) metaphor that search is the C prompt of the internet, and that the interface is due for an upgrade. “Search is a metaphor,” Stata claims, one that users have come to understand, much as they understand nested folders on a computer desktop. Stata is asking, through his products and his company, what might the implications of that fact be for software?
Stata’s got some interesting answers to that, but they are not yet ready for public consumption.