How to Become the Next Google or MicrosoftPosted: November 3, 2008
Search is almost never the task, it is always a step in the process. The task maybe trying to fix an old DVD player or trying to get directions to where you should vote.
One large problem with today’s web search engines is context switching. When a user needs to perform a search on the web, they are required to stop what they are doing, and transfer some portion of their current mental model to the web search engine. This is like the game of telephone, but each application has a different interface and requires a different piece of information. And just like the game of telephone you never really know what is going to come out at the other end.
We are training people to think in fragmented terms in order to support antiquated input requirements. This must evolve and web search engines must figure out how they can plug into the user flow and leverage context. The first company to figure this out will change history and become the next Google or Microsoft.
A simple example where applications work together and automate the flow are on the mobile phone. If I am looking at an email showing voting locations in my district, the phone number’s and addresses are represented as links. Clicking on either of them launches the appropriate application and set’s its context. For example, if I selected the map link on my iPhone it would launch Google Map’s, highlight the voting location on a map, and provide a method to get directions from my current location. This is a seamless context switch integrating search into the process.
As we begin thinking about tasks instead of applications, we will change how we develop software. I personally think this change will be as fundamental to the future of software development as writing multithreaded applications.
Processor speeds are peaking and the current trend of multi-core is here to stay. We need new ways of thinking about writing computer programs if we want to change the world. Integrating search into the user flow is a logical step. Who wants in?