Imagine, it is a hot afternoon and you are trudging your way on a street, hot and thirsty. All you want is a nice cosy restaurant where you can sit down, order your lunch and possibly have a drink or two. You keep looking here and there, walking down the length of the street, but are unhappy with what you see. So, you finally catch hold of a person, who seems to be all knowledgeable and approachable. You beseech him to guide you to a ‘nice’ restaurant, where you can find all this and more.
On hearing you out, the person, cross-checks with you a few more things; things like, what is the cost range you looking at? You want to have a beer or a juice? What kind of cuisine you looking at? AC or non-AC? And a few more like this. Based on your responses, he proposes a few options and then on further discussion, you finally chose one from them. The search for the restaurant for a hungry you in this scenario was two-way process.
This is how we work in life; this is how we find what we want. And yet, the online world is anything like this. Most often the search, or more precisely Googling, is a one way process. Wherein we put in a keyword and thanks to the wonderful algorithm and the scores and scores of servers, the search site puts out a veritable lists of things that might be of interest to you. It is basically information inundation. Going back to the scenario earlier, a hungry you, are presented a telephone guide of all the restaurants that are in the area.
So, while Google has become an integral part of our lives, it is surely not the best solution that we have. What we need is a new search engine, a new idea, a new concept that kind of maps our real life and mimics our offline life on the online space as well.
So, here is what I think the next killer search engine would be and should be like; it should be like the guy who helped out on the street, interactive and inquisitive. So, the next time you want to search something; it will ask you a set of questions that will help it to deliver more precise results. The queries posed by the search engine would be dependent on the trend analysis of the words punched in. Thus for instance if you punch in say Hamburg, it will ask you, if you are asking about a place or a food item. And then go on to a few more levels, for instance tourist information or news about Hamburg. It would also keep track of your IP address, thus if you are making that query from somewhere outside Germany it will presume that you intend to travel there.
This depth can be easily achieved through small sets of question and even while the user is punching his response on the top-right corner in a box, search results on the same keyword would keep rolling as in a ticker tape at a stock exchange. So if he wants to break out and click on one of them, he need not go through the whole cycle.
This search engine of the future, Zewak (as I hope it will be called), will be an interactive one, it will use data warehousing and analytics in a major way, and be able to deliver more precise results if not as fast as Google. It also needs to be an open source one, wherein all can contribute and help it grow unlike the highly secretive ones that exist today.
I firmly believe that it is time now that we looked at the next generation of search, we have been using the same keyword-type search for the past many years and it is a shame. Google Goggles and Voice is still far off. Though there is Wolfram Alpha, Bing, and the rest that have come on the horizon, yet none of them seem to have much depth in terms of interactivity. I used to like Ask Jeeves a lot in the past, but then it just folded out.
Anyways, for the user in a hurry, Zewak would still offer the plain vanilla search listing like Google does. In short, it will mould according to your needs, not mould you according to its preference.
So, I hope to see an interactive search engine like Zewak in the near future. And in case anyone is interested they can buzz me for the domain name, would be only too happy to oblige.