Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Holy Grail of the Net: The OS
Digg and Bit.ly almost got it right. The web is a fast growing mass of information as we all become broadcasters instead of mere receivers. How can we make sense of this humongous mass of data/information? Until we build an intelligence larger than our own, we'll harness our existing intelligence. Like Kevin Kelly said, we are a hive mind. And what's most precious in a hive mind? The swarms. Detecting the swarms is the holy grail.
Google did it for a while, as long as many people are linking to something, that something becomes relevant. That worked for a while, when things were slower on the net and less people were broadcasters. But, this is not enough for today's world. Twitter made that clear. As Michael Welsh magnifiscently expressed in his "Web 2.0 - The machine is us/ing us" video we are teaching the machine. Not only with links but with twitter re-directions, re-twits, social network buzz, and many other new ways to come.
How can we harness our own intelligence to detect the hive's top swarms? Well, so far we tried many ways. Digg.com was very successful for a while using crowdsourcing and having people to digg news they considered relevant. Bit.ly is going one step further by analyzing the statistics on the shared links and trying to make sense of the most "organically" digged news. These partial ways of measuring instant web activity can have limited success.
Who is always there witnessing all of our web activity? 99.9999% of our web activity is witnessed by The Browser.
Google knows this better than anybody else. They know their current system of detecting relevance by the links is not keeping up with the future of the web. The main reason for that being that they need to poll (crawl) the web in order to find new activity, new data. This is a highly inefficient method, no matter how powerful you are, you will always be one step behind. It needs to reverse the direction of where data is coming. It needs data to push into their databases -not to be pulled.
Google had a first attempt at getting to this data when they launched "your slice of the web", web history, back in April 07. But that was not nearly enough and people's adoption of the little toolbar (which was one of the great things to do before having your own browser) just didn't happen. At that time I was wondering why hasn't a browser itself done this: "I used to wonder about why a browser itself wouldn't have done this before. If someone knew all the sites someone was visiting, that was naturally the browser." (a little ego rush for me, gosh, that was almost vision ;).
So, what's next? It's very obvious, the next thing is The Browser. And sure enough, Google did it! In September 2008, Google launched Chrome. If you thought Chrome was about competing with Internet Explorer and competing against Microsoft, you got that one wrong. Chrome is about competing with twitter and all the next things that might capture the swarms which in the end is the holy grail of the web. It's search becoming instanstaneous, something Google can't miss on. TechCrunch has a glimpse of this problem on their post "The Real Time Search Dilemma: Consciousness versus Memory".
But, with the spreading of the Netbook Google had an incredible double opportunity, and of course they took it! Not only would they be able to make their browser user's base expand but also by becoming a platform they would be able to go beyond the web, capture the net itself. So, sure enough again, in July 2009, Google promises to deliver the Google Chrome OS by the second half of 2010. It you thought Chrome OS was about competing against Microsoft, think again. In my opinion, that is only a side effect, a by-product. The holy grail of The Net is the OS as the holy grail of the Web is The Browser.
The mobile market being one of the fastest and ubiquitous markets out there was not left out of the plan, Android will deliver the stats for the mobile world.
This is the future of search. No bing, twitter or no other little application will hardly be able to overcome and/or acquire this advantage. Anybody else is behind, because Google has a brilliant master plan, and it's executing the plan in an accurate way with extreme expedite targeted deliveries without missing one opportunity.