Search has become an increasingly important part of our lives, especially on the web. Imagine the world of internet without search. Imagine a website without search. How difficult things can get. But the way things are going, I see this coming to an end, some day. Well may be not a total dead-end, but almost there!
I had shared some views around this on my personal blog sometime last year in my blog titled Social Networking Vs. Searching. I will be revisiting that thought again, as I seem to have learnt more things that have helped me to convince myself that someday, we will be able live without search!
When/why does one search on the web:
1. One is looking for something he knows
2. One is looking for someone he knows
3. One is looking for something he doesn’t know
4. One is looking for someone he doesn’t know
5. And probably a few other reasons…
With the advent of social bookmarking, social networking, RSS, and micro-blogging, users hardly depend on searching rather they prefer tagging/subscribing to the topic. Having said that, with sites like Netvibes, Lazyfeed and Google Reader, one really doesn’t have to bother too much about how I am going to manage to keep a track of the topic that I usually search for. With networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn, and maybe Google Profiles one really wouldn’t need to search elsewhere to find a contact (existing or prospective). In fact, very soon we may have one integrated search that searches across various networks (or maybe we already have it). With all these above examples, one is sure, well to-do with my first couple of questions above.
Coming to the next couple of questions: one would typically look for something he doesn’t know, but that would be close to something he knows or it can be absolutely random things. If it’s something close to what he already knows, then the search engine/aforementioned sites should provide them as recommendations (ex. friends you may know, communities you would like to join, similar topics like this, etc). So now only if, one wants to do a random search, firstly, that person would typically ask for recommended links in his network by posting a question on Facebook or Twitter for example and via the extended network, invariably, he will find the right source of content. This will become more of a norm as people have started trusting their network more than they trust a search engine. Only if this fails, will he need to hit a keyword in one of the search engines to look for sources on the internet.
So are we moving to a situation in near future where we would hardly need the search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo etc? Would there be a day when there will be no need for us to search, per se? What would happen to the business models that these search giants are surviving on? Will this affect big mammoths like Google or Yahoo? How many of us kind of manage to do away with search engines today, well almost?
P.S.: I am not imagining a life without us requiring to search, but a day when one would not by default go to a search engine to find something; he will either get it as intelligent recommendation from the sites or you network will get you the source.
Nikhil Nulkar is a knowledge management consultant within Capgemini and is passionate about web2.0 and social media. Want to know what he is up to? Follow him on Twitter