The web has become a vast cesspool. While there is still plenty of good information available out there, it is getting harder to find. People are spending more time wading through the endless array of garbage that has nothing to do with what they searched for. Computers have evolved a lot from when they were first invented. The world wide web has been through a few changes itself. I predict it will do so again in the near future.
In the beginning, the web was text based. This got you the information you needed, but it lacked a certain je ne sais pas. (“I don’t know” for the non French speakers) Later the web gained the ability to display graphics and photos. This gave it a better feel as information was displayed in a way humans more readily accept. People tend respond better to things that are visually appealing then just plain text.
However, other then new ways of programming, the web has remained for a large part, visually stagnate. Google helped to organize the vast quantities of sites in a way to make them easier to find. Definitely a very helpful feature, and it did indeed change how we searched for awhile. It even gave us new language for describing how we search. Very few haven’t heard someone say, “just Google it.” Even this is now old news and long lost into our language as a regularly used lexicon. The visuals however have stayed the same. It’s still the same web we’ve been searching for over a decade now.
There are a few new sites here and there that are aiming, at least partially, to change that. By organizing their search results in a more visual way, they are starting to think outside the normal search boxes. As computers get more powerful and the internet gets faster, I see information becoming a lot more visual. Imagine surfing the web in 3D. Imagine surfing the web on a virtual surfboard. We have games that blur the lines between virtual and reality, yet we still look up information in only 2D? What is wrong with this picture? It’s flat, that is what is wrong.
Granted, not all systems are yet capable of anything near what I’ve mentioned, but we are getting closer every day. It’s time to start thinking about where we are headed on the info highway. It’s time to start thinking how to keep it a superhighway or let it become a deteriorating back road.
In the meantime there are a few sites that are trying to change the way we think about the web and searching for information. One of these was designed by an ex-employee of Google. You can see their idea of how search should be here. Here are some screen shots from Cuil.
There is also a new site called KGB. They are available on the web and on mobile devices and phones. You can check them out here. Instead of giving you a list of other sites to go to, they give you a list of closest matches to what you’re looking for. Once you select what your looking for, they display a page on their own site with the information you requested. The theory is it brings all the information to you instead of making you find it yourself. Here are some screen shots.
It’s still a new site in so called “alpha mode”, but it does have an interesting new take on how to search the web. I’ll be keeping an eye on these and other new technologies. Hopefully our information superhighway will get the proper upgrades it deserve to keep it from becoming a side road.
As time passes us by so does technology. The way we work with technology is ever changing as we demand more from it then we have in the past. Our cell phones are now much more then just two way radios designed to keep us in touch with other people. Reliance on data transmissions (text, internet, music, movies, etc.) have shifted how we think of our phones. This shift in dependence on our phones for more then just voice calls leads me to examine the future of information technology. The more we put on our phones the less we need on our computers. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some things you simply can’t do with phones, but with so much you can do with them it leaves us with the question of how important desktops will be in the near future. Certainly laptops will continue to thrive for some time, but desktop sales are already beginning to slump. Part of this is due to the economy taking a downward turn, but the fact that laptop sales remain strong tells us that full sized desktops are becoming less important to consumers. Also with netbooks coming out and offering a cheaper solution to basic word processing and internet surfing, even laptops may soon see stronger competition. I may be bold for saying so, and I don’t necessarily agree that it should be this way, but I predict that desktops are on their way out. I think they will be limited mostly to workstations that require the power and screen size to perform graphics and engineering work and toys for the power users. Laptops will replace them for the mainstream computer used by most users until the netbook idea takes a firm hold. For those that simply don’t need much in the way of computers other then checking email and looking up simple info on the net, smartphones will lead the way. Cell phones are taking over our technology. They are the new Swiss Army Knifes.