Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Spatial Search - Spezify

We all use it and without it no one would actually be able to really use the internet. The digital world of linked pages containing information has grown so dramatically that already twelve years ago it became impossible to navigate without navigation aids.
Solution had to be found and a new startup firm was leading the way into a future of searching - Google. Over the following years, the management of knowledge became the ultimate service gem. Google rose to transform into the biggest internet company. Of course they don’t only help find internet users find the content they are looking for (or finding at least something), they also are the biggest online advertisement company. This is kind of the ‘making money’ side of the management of knowledge. It is not that you know a lot, but that you can relate the knowledge conveniently to what others might also need.

Image by urbanTick / screenshot showing search results on spezify with the search term urbanTick and playing an urbanTick clip directly form youtube.

However, the search engine interface of the Google website is just one of the search tools. Google provides similar tailored search services for all kind of networks and websites. For example you can click to the right of this text in the third column where it says ‘Custom Search’ and find the content you are looking for directly from the urbanTick blog, all provided by Google.
So there are lots of different things searches are good for, but there is one thing I am really getting tired of the bloody list of results. How boring is this? We are all talking about mapping and location based services, networks and clusters, dynamic objects and relationships, responsible environments and individuality, visualisation and graphics, but all we get is a list.
Yes, I agree it is the simplest and most plain way of ‘listing’ the results. It seems that Google has even removed the time line graphic I described earlier in another post, which I was really excited about, is now transformed to be a list. I know, there are a lot of issues with all aspects of time and this might not be the best example for not having a list but nevertheless new visualisation methods are needed. Google has made an attempt at changing this at least for image and video content by acquiring/developing coolIris, but here again it is a (nice, interactive) three four row list.
Can you imagine how excited I was to come across this new service specify? It is absolute crap and can’t be used for a decent web search, ahh sorry it depends on what you are trying to find, but it comes up with a surprising new concept of showing the result. It displays the content spatially scattered across the screen and you can drag it with your virtual hand and move around on the plain to crawl through the result. Together with the newly announced all body gesture input technique (that actually works - article by the NYTimes) presented this week by Microsoft for its all new gaming platform Natal this could then lead to a real life body experience of virtual search. People would really start wandering off through the results, picking up the results that seem interesting and real-virtually putting them in their pocket, to later pull them out again as the fit with a new blog post for example. The results are all displayed as icons or previews of the content, media content from youtube or vimeo can be played directly from the search result which is nice. It can be called a spatial search experience, since the contend is scattered across the surface. However I am not sure about the organisation of the results spatially and there is definitely room for improvement as the additional dimension adds room for additional criteria. It also operates at the moment a very simple structure that even allow for a address that can be understood e.g. - try it out yourself and experience what ‘googling’ the internet could feel like.

If you feel like seeing the tutorial clip on youtube first before trying something so radically new - scared eh? - watch this

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