Posts filed under ‘search’
In his ‘Are search engines facing extinction?‘ article, Ian Hendry questions the usefulness of the traditional search engine, arguing:
“If I search for a friend or a specific person, why do I need 714,000 responses with irrelevant content or many multiple entries referring only fleetingly to the person I am trying to find? Why would I not go to Facebook or LinkedIn…instead?”
The point is debated further by Dr Harry Chen who suggests that: “the Web is gradually becoming a collection of independent islands of information (YouTube of videos, Facebook of people, Wikipedia of facts, etc.)”
I think that both have a point, and although Chen attempts to dissect the single entry into more disparate channels, I’d counter that the ‘single entry’ approach can visit each of his suggested ‘islands’. For example, unless specified otherwise, Google will happily return personal entries from social networking sites such as Bebo and Facebook; in fact, I would even go so far as to say I’ve had to restrict Bebo from appearing in my search results. In the likes of Google Maps, supplementary information has recently been added to queries, such as geotagged photographs that correspond to the location being searched for. Chen is right in that the use of search plug-ins in Firefox are extremely useful – being able to search within the likes of Wikipedia or Amazon without going there first – but only if you think it’s likely that whatever you are looking for is already there. If you are querying the very existence or availability of something, it has to be a traditional search engine every time.
Semantic Web search engines are few and far between – perhaps unsurprisingly given that two years ago Tim-Berners Lee said this period would be looked back on in twenty years as “the embryonic period” – but there are some in development.
Back in March, James Simmonds posted on his Semantic Web blog, rounding up Semantic Web search engines. One of the most interesting is Yahoo! Microsearch, which deviates from standard page searching and looks for content like microformats. Indeed, one of the listed examples returns the search term ‘Peter’ from Flickr, which spawns a map of users named Peter throughout the world, possible due to the location information on their Flickr profile page being recognised by Microsearch. If you’re not trying to find one of the most common first names in the Britain, searching for our office and Heriot-Watt provides map links to websites for our office and me.
This sort of example would be useful if a user could search for a photo tag and have a return of all geographical instances (where photos have been geotagged on Flickr, for example). A geography student searching for photos that have been tagged with something like ‘forest fire’ could be presented with an immediate worldwide snapshot of geotagged photos matching that description. All we need now is photo recognition software to geotag photos automatically