I’ve been talking about computer-assisted shallow atom assembly (CASAA) in my posts thinking about how we acquire knowledge in life with the pervasive Internet. Yesterday I read about Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, which they’re actually calling a “decision engine.” From what I’ve read they’re making a clear effort to push search in the CASAA direction. Look how Balmer describes it:
“…search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don’t do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find… Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they’ve found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions.”
This goes hand-in-hand with the idea I was calling for when I said we need to ask How do I assemble knowledge from the information I find? In Erick Schonfeld’s detailed article on TechCrunch, he shows a number of examples of how this better guided search, with a decision-oriented result can work. It seems Bing will provide a lot of smart contextual information around searches to better identify what people are looking for and deliver results that a person will find useful for taking some sort of action.
I said before that we lack intelligent authors to assemble a structured knowledge for acquisition from the content of the Internet. The search engine should morph or augment itself into something that will provide that or come close to providing that (or else be usurped by an alternate application).
Microsoft is making a lot of a statements about changing the search game. Considering the launch of Bing occurs in such close proximity to the launch of Wolfram|Alpha, I think it’s fair to say that there is a real chance people are recognizing the need to change the search game in this direction. Wolfram|Alpha calls itself a computational knowledge engine and makes a point of differentiating itself from search engines. Wolfram|Alpha explains that
“You enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and growing collection of data to compute the answer. Based on a new kind of knowledge-based computing…”
From what I can see in Microsoft’s Bing and Wolfram|Alpha, neither have fully accomplished the game-change that is needed. However they’re each on the path. It’s clear that Google has a wealth of apps and interconnected information, which they’re subtly making visible and more-and-more intelligent over time. If you spend any time flipping back and forth between Google’s variety of apps, you start to see some interesting connections that overlay search results. Rather than launch an entirely new system, I think Google is evolving itself in this direction. I like that Bing and Wolfram|Alpha have become quite public, I think it will push Google more and it’ll be fun to see how these companies finally deliver on CASAA.