Scattering data and need for universal search 08:53 on Wednesday
Yesterday I started a new private stikiwiki to accompany our “team wiki” (which is used to store and brainstorm project ideas for our group of friends). My blog count at the moment is three, this blog, Softys, and the blog for our upcoming book. I also use and store stuff in Basecamp, Flickr, Clicktime, SlimTimer, Google Spreadsheets, EditGrid, Zoho Writer, BackPackIt, GooToDo, Writeboards and Google Calendar. On top of that I have 70GB of stuff on my laptop.
Nice to know. So…?
A modern day knowledge worker accumulates a huge amount of data. Hierarchical access to this data works only so far. The OS manufacturers know this and concentrate on building better search (witness OS X Spotlight or WinFS). Web 2.0 developers know this and concentrate on classification (witness tags). Google knows this and being the masters of search, I’m sure we have not yet seen what they’re capable of.
The result of using web apps is that more and more data moves out of the desktop and onto the network. This breaks the information management system based on local file system search, and a management system is at best only when every manageable tidbit is managed through the system.
So… we need systems that enable us to search across all our data, regardless of medium. I want my spotlight search to deep index the content of my wikis and return wiki pages among the files and emails listed. I want spotlight to give me links to Basecamp project discussions. I want it to take me to the exact chapter and paragraph on my Zoho writer document. I want to find drafts stored in my wordpress blog. I want quick searching of my Flickr photos.
I could envision that by the magic of APIs this global search would not be just a dream. But for now, all we can do is wait… and see what Google comes up with.