Toward a new search engine, powered by you

I ran into Jeremie Miller yesterday in an elevator here at the hotel where is happening in Denver. I last spoke to Jeremie while working on a story/interview with him for Linux Journal. Atlas: Hoisting a New World of Search is now up, and things have been moving along on the Atlas project, now titled Search Wikia.

Jeremie is the father of Jabber and its protocol, XMPP. I see he’ll be among those talking this morning. He’s always sensible and provocative at the same time. Looking forward to what he says. As for where he wants to take search, here’s an excerpt from one of his blog posts that I used in the piece I wrote as well:

  Meaning, the process of converting Information into Knowledge. To give meaning to information, is to make it useful, to have context, to enable understanding, to empower. Information simply exists, a commodity, dimensionless. When information has meaning it can become knowledge, and that is perhaps the most important process humankind has ever practiced, to learn…
  The future of search is in open cooperation (and competition) based on a Meaning Economy—create meaning, exchange meaning, serve meaning.
  My vision begins with an open protocol, allowing independent networks of search functions (crawling, indexing, ranking, serving, etc.) to peer and interop. All relationships between these networks are always fully transparent and openly published. Networks exchange knowledge between them, each adding new meaning to the information, each of them responsible for the reputations of their participants and peers. This is the very foundation of a Meaning Economy.

By coincidence last night I had a chance to talk with JC Herz about a range of topics that broadly revolve around what I’m beginning think is The Same Thing, though I’m not sure what that Thing is yet. Meanwhile JC will be speaking here as well today, on Visualization of Social Intelligence. Visualization is not a strength of search as we’ve come to know it. (Though I’m glad Technorati has brought its results-over-time chart back. Here’s the one for defrag conference.) So I’m imagining possibilities here.

Yesterday afternoon’s rapid round of mini-keynotes, by Dick Hardt, Esther Dyson, myself and Ross Mayfield (in that order) brought suggestions afterwards that we had attempted to talk about the same basic thing, which was people. At lest we all seemed to be coming at tech from the people perspective. There was, however, no collusion at all. Just coincidence, or something like it. For in-depth reports on this and other Defrag Stuff, look here, here, and here.

The high point for me, by the way, came early with David Weinberger’s opening talk, about what’s implicit, rather than explicit. David’s an outstanding speaker, and this was the best of his best. Deep, moving and just amazing. The first remark from the audience was from a woman who said “I didn’t expect to cry at a tech conference keynote”.

David outlines his talk here, concluding,

  Defrag — our generational project, not just this conference — isn’t about reassembling pieces. It’s not about clarity and simplicity. It’s about how we are finding ways to let the world matter to us together. For that we need to enable, cherish, and protect the unspoken between us.

Is there a thread that connects between all that he and the rest of us said, and are saying, especialy about search? I think so.

Meanwhile, here’s JP on the a rare convergence.


  1. sean coon’s avatar

    and to think i thought you were posting about mahalo, doc. πŸ˜‰

    i’m wondering, does it matter that computer science has flattened the real world relationship between data and information?

    i mean, i know that a database views anything inside a field as data, whether it is the roman numeral V or the text from thomas paine’s “common sense” or a link to a YouTube parody on information retrieval, but doesn’t a meaningful meta-conversation about, well, meaning — generated through next gen information retrieval — somewhat depend on keeping that relationship in tact?

    data has no context; information has context; information puppeted alongside information in dynamic framing (such as a finite universe of letters having the inherent ability to be restructured to form various sentences) creates meaning.

    but how much more so than plain old information?

    doesn’t the degree to which one buys into the construct of, say, ranking for example, impact the degree of meaning that the system (of information) has in store for me?

    it did with technorati. πŸ˜‰

  2. Data Is Deep, Information Is Flat, Meaning Is Heavenly » the dotmatrix project’s avatar

    […] Doc Searls touches upon information, meaning and knowledge in next gen search via a conversation with Jeremie Miller. For […]

  3. Frank Borges LL0SA-’s avatar

    What ever happened to DirectHit’s search engine, which incorporated how users picked search results?

    I think they were acquired by Ask Jeeves, but they never did anything with it.

    Frank Borges LL0SA- Virginia Broker

  4. beastiality’s avatar

    Great! πŸ™‚

  5. uncut hunks’s avatar

    I can’t be bothered with anything lately, but shrug. Basically nothing exciting happening right now. Eh. I just don’t have much to say right now. Such is life.

  6.’s avatar

    I am also glad that Technorati brought its chart back too

  7. Masenchipz’s avatar

    meet people certainly happy .. yes

  8. Jeet’s avatar

    Will introduction of search wiki in google results affect Search Wikia’s future? I don’t even know if google is using the inputs from Search wiki in ranking pages.

  9. Katie’s avatar

    Nice site with some great info that I’ve been reading for a while now. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Simon Byholm’s avatar

    It would be very interesting to know more about the Atlas project that Jeremie is doing.

    I’m currently developing a search engine with the intention of making all ranking algorithms and factors transparent and open for all to see.

    The idea of a distributed search engine is exciting. The web community as a whole could beat Google in processing power if everyone shares a bit of their own processor cycles. It might be hard though to protects the system from spammers injecting manipulated data by becoming processing nodes.

    CEO and founder,
    Secret Search Engine Labs

  11. PC Pro Schools’s avatar

    @ Frank

    I’m pretty sure AskJeeves was turned into just “Ask”. I could be wrong but I’m 95% sure of it.

  12. Richard Elwood’s avatar

    “I’m pretty sure AskJeeves was turned into just β€œAsk”. I could be wrong but I’m 95% sure of it”

    Sure was and they’re valued at 1.8 billion still!! Feel sorry for all of these other search engines – google is just going to get bigger and bigger until they rule the world

  13. Tablet PC guy’s avatar

    Yep, there is a seasrch engine powered by you, it’s called twitter, and is the 2nd most frequnetly searched website in the world.

  14. Merudh’s avatar

    I don’t agree – AskJeeves was the best search engine that ever existed. Too bad the big dogs like google and bing took it down πŸ™

  15. Webotopia’s avatar

    AskJeeves was born to fail. Google is the way to search today, and all the other networks to socialise: Facebook, Twitter, social gaming, etc.

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