August 28, 2006

DevSource

From documents to experiences

By Mike Elgin

Your fingers can probably type the word google faster than they can type your own name. With so much infomatation available, both on the Internet and on our own computers, we rely on Search tools to help us find what we need.

But, points out Ramesh Jain, a Professor in Information & Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, we're headed for a major change because of video and online photos.

This short introduction to the latest DevSource "Great Minds in Development" video is a perfect example: you could find this article in Google with a text search (and perhaps you did!), but there's currently no way for you to search through Jain's comments in the interview you're about to watch.

We're all slaves to the keyword, Jain says. "This is a very primitive and poor mechanism" for finding information, he believes, and our understanding of what people are looking for is still very poor.

Today's Web, says Jain, is a document Web. Everything is presented as a page. Yet, audio and video are becoming easier to store and disseminate, what Jain describes as an "event."

Figuring out how we'll search through "events" is only one small piece of the problem. For example, as mobile phones become the primary client, people will use the devices to look for information: how do you design search tools for that platform?

Another challenge that Jain discusses in this video interview is the role of sensor networks.

You may be thinking of these networks from a data acquisition perspective - bring data into the system to be processed and used - but Jain suggests you contemplate the requirements for examining it. With today's search engines, a web crawler will discover site updates within a day or two.

But if you have a dozen Webcams distributed across your city, when you want data you want it now (and then how do you find which camera has it? the name of the camera isn't very useful).

Take a break from thinking about today's computing problems, and think about the ones you'll face tomorrow. It's fascinating.

Watch the 15-minute video interview in Windows Media Player.
From documents to experiences