Friday, July 16, 2004

BusinessWeek on Info-Overload

Steve Hamm at BusinessWeek writes about the future of search. He starts by slamming MSN's new search engine:
    For proof that Internet search technology is still in its infancy, go to the Web site for Microsoft's new would-be Google killer. The company has invited people to try out a test version and suggest improvements. It could definitely use some. A search for Web pages related to the key words "Bill" and "Gates," for instance, starts off well with a couple of links to Gates' own Web pages on Microsoft's corporate site. But the results quickly devolve into a catch-all of random and even loony Gates-related material -- including a guide to hiring a William H. Gates III impersonator and a tongue-in-cheek spoof that tries to prove Gates is the devil.

    That's a bummer. Microsoft has spent $100 million on the new technology -- its attempt to catch up with Google's great leap forward in Web search. Clearly, a lot more has to be done.
The problem, as Steve explains well, is that "there's still too much gravel among the nuggets of digital gold."
    The burden is on the industry to turn the information tsunami into an unadulterated good. Until its engineers create much better ways of sorting through the sea of digital information that's flooding people's lives, consumers won't be able to get the most out of the Internet, and corporations won't receive full value for the nearly $8 trillion they have spent on info tech over the past decade. "We're just scratching the surface of what needs to be done," says Howard D. Wactlar, vice-provost for research computing at Carnegie Mellon University. "There's just so much information and so much of it isn't useful."

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