I know we all have been noticing a mix of images, text, news and video on our search returns from google. This is changing my life as a web user, it’s been live for months on Google and basically exposes content you may not have known you wanted to see or even existed. The real world continues to morph towards rich media with embedded videos in [tag]powerpoint[/tag] or sound, so too is the web and now it continues to get richer online thanks to [tag]Universal Search[/tag].
Universal search uses traditional text returns, but with other tagged media driving a global folksonomy which is getting more and more important/valuable for finding the RIGHT content. What are tags? Tags are not some cryptic header code or HTML syntax – its a human readable plain english way of simply explaining what something is, typically used when uploading files to [tag]YouTube[/tag] or posting to a blog. Tags are increasing the relevance of [tag]Folksonomy[/tag] and provides the web as people see it, not machines or coders.
So times they are a changing. Old world surfing is going the way of walking the stacks as the library. I put the original search inline with the Dewey Decimal system, I know it’s far more complicated than a rigid and almost incomprehensible system which required librarians to assist, but the old search just wasn’t scaling to meet the requirements of users.
So will universal search create new jobs? Probably, not just for technologist but for generalists (folksonomist). Think about it – library science is a discipline, so search has an opportunity to be a new soft science as well.
So where am I going with this? Universal search is transforming EVERYONE’s online experience from a linear browsing activity to multi-threaded surfing adventures. The other big win is the tab concept first deployed by [tag]Firefox[/tag] and now part of Internet Explorer.
Many corporations don’t yet realize the lost productivity due to not having IE 7.0 or allowing Firefox installations, I did an non-scientific exercise and I think universal search and tabs have a productivity lift of about 15%, for not good searchers – the control group was my wife it looks like perhaps even more like 20-25%, so this is low hanging fruit for many organizations since both apps are free.
A user can now conveniently tab out content from a search for rapid non-linear review/assessment leveraging multi-media search returns. This means no more do we just look at the first one, hit the back button, look at the second one, hit the back button….slow…. The other option was the only slightly more productive shift-click to pop a new window, but you then had to close windows and often got lost, a totally crowded desktop and often closed the wrong window – not fun.
We are able to get a rapid review of search returns and explore within out losing our relative location in a search initiative.
So marketers have new opportunities with universal search, but the real opportunity is for users. So go get a tabbed browser, and rss reader and welcome to the new web. What is an RSS reader – watch this video
The productivity lift by using a RSS reader is exponential.