A new era for search?

Two interesting developments in the world of search reached the news lately. Both connected strongly to the factor of time. Google rolls out the realtime search and becoming a topic based knowledge stream. While Yahoo is experimenting with a search tool with a timeline. Facebook is also busy to enter the search domain focusing on the enhancement of search with the social graph. Question is if this is signaling a new era of search or just an natural evolution.

Let’s take a closer look to the meaning of realtime for Google. It is clear that Google has to take action to counter the developments of Facebook and Twitter as more important sources for information. The realtime engine can be seen as a mean to build a place where you go to keep on track with the developments here and now. Just like you do with the Twitter-search engine. By combining different streams there is added value to only using Twitter. In a sense Google is building a buzz capture tool, a tool to monitor social media activity around brands or topics. It will be interesting if Google will combine realtime with the alert functionality in that sense.

Yahoo! is doing things with time and search the other way around by adding historical context. It is not about realtime, but about enhance the search with contextual knowledge. They also do predictions on the future search volume of a topic. You can say that the Time Explorer is doing everything but the present. Just like the Google Realtime tool it provides you with more contextual information on the topic you are looking for.

Interesting question is of course the consequences for the advertisment model. In the realtime page of Google is no ads yet. You can easily imaging however that there will be a realtime ad sense method in the end where the ads will also have the dimension of time.

So search will definitely move into a new era. The power of social search forces search traditional providers to add the context and realtime to their search tools. An important part of search queries will be topic based following. Notification will be the next addition. The result page of search engines will grow into a monitoring dashboard instead of a result list. Next will be the adding of the social graph to steer relevancy in the results.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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