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Scan the Enterprise

There was a great article in the NY Times magazine this last Sunday - "Scan this Book!" - fortunately this article is available without a subscription to the NYT on their web site - here.  I'm surprised that there hasn't been more written about this article, perhaps it's because the theme about Google wanting to scan all the world's books is stale.

In the article, Kevin Kelly paints a picture of what becomes possible once you have a online copy of all the books in the world that can be searched, tagged, linked etc.  In the last section of the article ("Search changes Everything"), Kelly makes some key observations.

  • "What search uncovers is not just keywords but also the inherent value of connections."
  • "The technology of search maximizes the value of a creative work by allowing a billion new connections into it,..."
  • "Search opens up creations."

While search plays a key role in making information available, it's a building block, not the complete solution.  Tagging, annotation and editorial review are other building blocks that help classify, provide context and navigation through large masses of information.  These building blocks are still the subject of innovation and experimentation in the online world as we try to cope with the increasing amount of information available on the Internet.

Too much has already been written about the "long tail" effect but search based solely on the frequency of links will tend to leave important information buried.  It will be interesting to see how search, tagging etc. can be combined to help locate this otherwise buried information.

Slowly, these tools will filter into the Enterprise.  Think of all the information that is stored in separate repositories or silos within the Enterprise and how much more productivity could be gained if it could be searched, tagged etc. and made available. While we may have to scan printed material to capture historical information, most data produced going forward is likely already in digital form.

A set of tools that include security reflecting an individual's roles and responsibilities would provide a secure method for collaboration and the creation of new views into corporate data.  Seeing some of the mashups on the Internet makes me wonder what creative new ways can be found to use the information in the Enterprise.  I think this is an interesting space to watch for new investment opportunities.

PS: Speaking of Editorial review, Stu's Hotlist gets updated several times a day but won't trigger an RSS feed update - so if you find the Hotlist interesting, check back to the Permalink for the Hotlist page using your browser.


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Intense Brit, lived in Silicon Valley since 1984. Avid pilot, like digital photography, ham radio and a bunch of other stuff. Official Geek.

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