Search is as old as language. There has always been a need for one to find something in the jumble of human creation. The first web was nothing more than passing verbal histories down the generations so others could find and remember how not to get eaten; the first search used the power of written language to build simple indexes in printed books, leading to the Dewey Decimal system and reverse indices in more modern times.
Then digital happened. Besides having profound societal impacts, it also made the act of searching almost impossibly complex for both engines and searchers. Information isn’t just words; it is pictures, videos, thoughts tagged with geocode data, routes, physical world data, and, increasingly, the machines themselves reporting their condition and listening to others.
Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter holds up a mirror to our time to see if search can keep up. Author Stefan Weitz, Director of Search for Bing (Microsoft), explores the idea of access to help readers understand how we are inventing new ways to access data through devices in more places and with more capabilities. We are at the cusp of imbuing our generation with superpowers, but only if we fundamentally rethink what search is, how people can use it, and what we should demand of it.