“The Search” by John Battelle is about the impact that search technology is having and will have on our culture. “Search” is defined quite broadly and includes the coming realm of ubiquitous computing. Google is a major focus of the book, and its influence and growth surely warrant that focus.
What motivated me to read this book was the concept of the “Database of Intentions“. It refers to the ability of an ubiquitous search technology to extract the intention of one or more of its users by analyzing their interactions with a plethora of devices. That is absolutely fascinating and will be quite something when it is realized. Needless to say, it will be the Oracle of the information age. It is an update on the idea of the Memex described by Vannevar Bush in “As We May Think“, which is cited in the book. A meta-Memex.
A good portion of the book, however, is devoted to the history of search technology and industry. That is quite interesting in and of itself as I like to read about such things. There are several anecdotes about the people and companies that played a part in these nascent times. I found it to be too detailed in some places, but the book is written such that one could easily skip those parts if one finds them too dull. I didn’t.
The epilogue highlights that we remember people from history because they became immortal through records. In the future, everyone will be immortal because everything will be recorded. This blog is being recorded. All of it will add to the noise and one will have to shout or be referenced a lot to be seen clearly. Will you shout? What will you say? I think you should write a book while they are still in vogue ;-)