Beyond Search, which is a a 10-year-old publication that focuses on enterprise search and content processing, is changing its focus to cover products and services related to voice-centric information access by introducing a new blog, Beyond Alexa. Stephen E. Arnold writes: “The idea is that Alexa has become an interesting product niche, but the impact of voice-related information access is now changing rapidly. Frankly it is more dynamic than the decades old keyword search business.” I couldn’t agree more. He also states: “Since early 2008, we have tracked the keyword centric approach to finding and making sense of information. Our changing focus reflects the fact that I wrote about years ago in Searcher Magazine. Keyword search linked to a keyboard, if not dead, was headed for marginalization…We think there’s more ‘beyond’ Alexa. We want to explore the new world of ubiquitous and Teflon-slick information access.” For a related post, please see Voice Search is Growing and is Different Than Keywords in a Search Box.
An interesting new Pew Research Center survey finds that a majority of Americans feel that information overload is a not problem for them and that they “are comfortable with their abilities to cope with information flows in their day-to-day lives.” In addition, owners of more devices “feel more on top of the data and media flows in their lives.” Findings also suggest that information overload is more situational: “Specific situations may arise, such as when institutions impose high information demands on people for transactions, which create a sense of information burden for some Americans.”
Search Engine Land featured an article in June, written by Wesley Young, entitled The Voice Search Explosion and How It Will Change Local Search. Included are fascinating tidbits of information for those who follow and are interested in the world of search and retrieval. Here are two key takeaways:
- There is explosive growth – “At LSA [Local Search Association] 16, [Timothy]Tuttle shared that within one year (last year), the use of voice search went from a statistical zero to 10 percent of all search volume…Yet more recent numbers show that growth accelerating — Google announced at I/O that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent, while [Mary] Meeker’s charts show that in May 2016, 25 percent of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice searches.”
- Voice search is different than keywords in a search box – “Because search queries are more conversational in natural language, they tend to be longer, more nuanced and reveal greater intent…It’s also easy to see how queries may no longer be ‘search-oriented’ in the way we define it today but rather jump over search straight into a request for action. For example, instead of searching for pizza restaurants near me, you can now request Alexa (Echo) to order you a Large Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza with mushrooms and extra sauce and have it delivered to your house via the Domino’s Pizza skill.”
Just the beginning? I think yes.
Here is a really great Infographic that shows how search engines like Google and Bing work in 2016 from SEO Book. This quote is excellent: “The philosophy of modern search has thus moved away from starting with information and connecting it to an audience, to starting with the user and customizing the result page to them.”
1. TED Talks
TED’s tagline is “ideas worth spreading.” TED Talks is a video collection in the form of short, powerful speeches on every subject imaginable (18 minutes or less).
2. Brain Pickings
Brain Pickings has interesting posts drawn from art, science, design, history, and philosophy.
99U’s actionable insights on productivity, organization, and leadership help creative people push ideas forward.
Lynda has thousands of video tutorials covering technical, creative, and business skills, all taught by industry experts.
5. University of the People
University of the People is a nonprofit, tuition-free online university based in California and committed to educational access and inclusion.
NPR’s Guide to 2015’s Great Reads is not only informative, but is also visually a delight. The Guide is produced by Nicole Cohen, Rose Friedman, Petra Mayer and Beth Novey. When landing on the site, you can scroll to look at all 260 titles via their book covers. Filters can be used to explore the 260 titles that “NPR staff and critics loved this year.” (You can also combine filters!) These filters represent 29 categories. Hovering over the cover shows a quote from the recommender and a link to the full recommendation. Here are a few interesting business/technology related titles not seen (as much) on other lists:
“Only a world-class iconoclast would take on media’s biggest slab of conventional wisdom: that television will soon be killed by digital platforms.” – recommended by Eric Deggans, critic, Arts Desk
“The Dark Net is a meticulously researched and reported look at the hidden world of cryptocurrency, anonymous Web browsing and online subcultures.” – recommended by David Eads, Visuals staff
“Randall Monroe — the former NASA roboticist behind the beloved xkcd webcomic — breaks down complex stuff into simple terms … really simple terms.” – recommended by Beth Novey, Arts Desk staff
“Laura Vanderkam is a best-selling productivity author with four children, and her book is a bracingly practical corrective to the hand-wringers about women, success and having it all.” -recommended by Anya Kamenetz, blogger, NPR Ed
Nikhil Sonnad, a reporter for Quartz, has written a great article that details how the creators of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) have solved the problem of “how to provide authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers.” The online SEP was launched in 1995 by Edward Zalta (Stanford’s Center for the Study of Language and Information). Zalta, in a paper written in 2002, succinctly stated the main challenge when providing information via the information age:
A fundamental problem faced by the general public and the members of an academic discipline in the information age is how to find the most authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date information about an important topic.
This statement illustrates “if the goal is to share with people what is true, it is extremely important for a resource to have all of these things. The three requirements the authors list—’authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date’—are to information what the “impossible trinity” is to economics.”
Basically, where other encyclopedias fall short:
- Printed books are authoritative, but not up-to-date, nor comprehensive
- A crowdsourced online encyclopedia is timely, but not authoritative, nor comprehensive
- The question-and-answer wiki, or “crowdsourced + voting” model is slightly more authoritative, but not as up-to-date, nor comprehensive
For the SEP to achieve authority, subject editors, responsible for broad areas, identify the topics that need to be covered. Qualified philosophers are then invited to write entries on those topics. An executive editorial board ensures that the encyclopedia is comprehensive. Each entry is expected to “contain the freshest possible information and research on a topic.” In four years, or earlier if needed, the author is expected to provide a new, updated entry.
Stanford pays for most of the costs. Contributors donate their time for several reasons, the main one being to simply “further the enterprise of philosophy by creating a place to better understand it.”