I commend Seth Grimes on his column "Search Is Not the Answer" (September 2006). The flavor of the month among CTOs and venture capitalists seems to be "search" (throw in "relevance" if you add nuts). Grimes notes that most users "want plain and simple answers to straightforward questions," and they "need the question-answering technology, 40 years in the making, that is starting to appear in search tools in the enterprise and on the Web."
Still, "question-answering" requires more than technological advances. Unless search providers complement their customers with better means to identify key experts, capture key underlying logic and rules around published content and position these contributions into a more effective structure, then the current growth rate of Web publishing will continue to present hurdles to more relevant search results that span both noncomplex and complex inquiries.
While we wait for the next flavor, users can learn more effective query methods. I would surmise that 99 percent of all searches are still done in free-form entry in the search field. Also, users can explore cost-effective examples like Clusty and Watson by Intellext, which assist in delivering indexed search results and a higher level of relevance.
It behooves companies and users to better identify their process expertise and best practices, to improve means of capturing such expertise (intangibles) and to strive for up-to-date process continuity among their domains and user bases.
Will search providers add publishing components that improve overall structure and notate content into a semblance of structure (such as primary and secondary topics, subtopics, cursory rules and logic) for Web spiders and other query methods to take root and evolve with new and existing content? When will vendors step up and offer more search flavors than plain vanilla?
Stupid Web Tricks
Thanks for Joshua Greenbaum's recent column, "Why I Hate Web 2.0" (August 2006). Any rant against widespread stupidity brings to mind two wise sayings: "Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain" [Friedrich von Schiller]. And, more recently, "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity" [unknown].
We live in a world where people can make a very good living with 419 scams and offers of enlargement creams. The pool of global stupidity is more than large enough to support them and serve as a breeding ground for ridiculous rumor in place of logic and truth. Modern technology has allowed lies and idiocy to spread even faster, but gives no edge in speed or penetration to the truth. Still, good for you for trying.
Public affairs manager
Toronto Board of Trade
Be serious. I've been researching IT for 30 years, first in print and now on the Web. All technical media is driven by marketing. In the nontechnical world, newspapers, magazines and TV are also driven by marketing, and many of these I pay for. Marketing is what makes media affordable.