The web landscape is constantly changing, and with it our navigation tools are advancing. To support the hypothesis it’s important that we first review a brief history of the internet. Initial communication networks were hubs set up with mainframes controlling information and terminals allowing access to that information. Separate localized computer networks developed and finally adopted a common network protocol merging information flow into what is now known as the Internet (From wikipedia) .
Internet search tools, our navigators through this new virtual landscape of information, have their own, non-discrete evolutionary history. Long ago I used Lynx to browse the text web on a green and black CRT in college manually crawling websites. At that point I used Jump Station or the WWW Worm to navigate the web, but became frustrated with the difficulty to find useful sites. It wasn’t until years later that Yahoo and graphics made the internet a helluva lot more pleasing to the eye and mind. There were a few popular search engines popping up (nothing memorable before Yahoo), but Alta Vista had the best match from my keywords, to what I wanted to read about. Somewhere along my web visits I dropped Alta Vista to try Google and I was hooked to their matching algorithm (based purely on the quality of search results).
The search engine development history:
- it started with simple keyword matching
- then people deciding the best pages and placing them on directories
- next moved to a powerful algorithm which is “centrally” controlled
- and now is shifting back to millions of users helping to maintain a quality score for websites
The social collective directory scoring is achieved by submitting sites, and grading those sites within social tools like twitter (Digg, Stumble Upon, Reddit, Hacker News, etc.).
So search had it’s roots in crawlers that indexed (JumpStation) then merging this data with advanced directories (like Yahoo), then link following methods (Alta Vista and eventually Google) transformed the potential for search by having a massive database and powerful search algorithms. But there are times when we don’t know the right questions to ask (keywords) or how to judge the quality of information we’re being overloaded with. Hierarchical social networking can help us quickly find the guru’s and experts in specific fields and allow us to connect with them in real time about what’s going on in their fields. We can communicate with them about how we may best benefit from those developments or simply review their findings.
The last few days I’ve been on a terrible twitter bender. I know it has untapped potential as a tool for increasing human interaction and knowledge (as long as the program speed can keep up with user volume). There’s a strong correlation with our deep biologically programmed need for belonging and social networking on the internet. We are much more willing to accept advice from a trusted friend then from a search algorithm about where to find pertinent information. I suddenly can follow hundreds of thousands of potential advisers for content. The challenge is in filtering that data and finding the smaller number of trusted sources for what I most appreciate. Google hasn’t customized to my search desires (yet) like a plethora of people.
With twitter we can find what’s interesting and feel like we belong at the same time, something Google hasn’t figured out yet.
As far as belonging, John Donne was an expert on the human connection following are a few quotes from his work Devotions upon Emergent Occassions:
“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better
language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the
bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon
the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more
me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an
island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am
involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell
tolls; it tolls for thee.”
If the above reasons aren’t compelling, here are six more reasons why twitter is going to superseed Google in Gyutae Park’s article.