“Search is the new center of gravity”

(via John Battelle)
Roger McNamee, of The New Normal, writes an insightful piece on Google’s Desktop Search. He opens:

There are very few pieces of technology whose time is longer gone than the hierarchical file system underlying Windows. Finding things on a PC was a never-ending source of frustration until a few months ago, when Google shipped Google Desktop Search.

I have long lamented the hegemony of the our hierarchical file systems, noting that our fancy GUI interfaces are merely using eye-candy icons to hide the same “C:/files/…” hierarchical file tree structure I had on my Commodore 64 fifteen years ago. McNamee continues,

The Google product [is] amazing [becuase] it works: you can find more or less anything on your hard drive without knowing the precise name or location…

Exactly. I should not have to remember the exact directory, and its precise location within my complex array of file folders, in order to locate a file. Google Search is great in this regard. McNamee continues (with my underlining added):

Google Desktop Search confirms my view that search is the new center of gravity for the computer industry. For nearly twenty-five years, operating systems were the most important piece of enabling technology in the industry… What do users need [now]? They need to find information, whether on their hard drive or on the internet.

I would agree that the ability to navigate our files, our website, our “information-space” should reign supreme. And, certainly, Google is well-positioned to drive this effort: consider their entrance into e-mail, image & video searches, news aggregation, digital photo storage, maps & satellite imagery, and now print & library. My concern, however, is with the implications of this “Googlization” of our information-spaces. My research for the next few years will focus on complicating and challenging the popular discourses which seem to embrace Google and “the search” for how we understand our files, our information-spaces, and, in total, the world around us.

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