PubCon: Battelle Looks To The Future

    November 15, 2006

“The Search” author and Federated Media chairman John Battelle delivered today’s keynote at WebmasterWorld’s PubCon in Las Vegas, and WebProNews was in the room, taking notes and nudging the other participants.

PubCon: Battelle Looks To The Future
PubCon: Battelle Looks To The Future

John began by mentioning FORTRAN, which became DOS, as the beginning point (command line interface is how we “touched” computers in the past). He then progressed to the PC and how the workforce adopted it and brought computers to the forefront. It also introduced the computer interface.

The next big wave was to take this technology and offer it customers through the Internet. Technology began “touching” the general public. This progressed to home computers featuring GUI interface.

John believes search is the next big step for the public interacting with technology. Much like DOS was the initial way we interact with computers, John feels search is the web’s command line interface (DOS), however, instead of coding, users use natural language.

He equates search to the next phase of the user interface. Radical changes forthcoming on the search industry as a user interface are coming.

Using mobile devices to search. For instance, when shopping, you will scan your device over the purchasable item and a search will be conducted – price comparisons and any pertinent information available will be returned from the label scan.

John Battelle
John Battelle

Search drives Web 2.0 business and it’s the way we interact with others. Search allows you to present your intent. With search, the customer puts their intent in the box. The search results allow us to present our message of intent to the searchers. Intent drives content.

Search drive audiences to social media sites and consumers have started to expect social media content (blogs, forums, RSS) from the resulting companies.

The best business on the web allow customers to help build your business (Amazon’s suggestion process was referenced). User feedback plays a prominent role. However, some non-web savvy business are hesitant to give customers that level of control.

John also mentioned larger companies leveraging wikis in order to get useful consumer feedback and this plays into the bigger picture of how the computers, the web, and search have given customers the ability to interact with companies. Savvy business use this feedback to improve their products, marketing campaign and general exposure.

The next portion discussed his company, Federated Media and how it benefits potential clients. This led directly to the Q and A session.

Overall, the way John presented the search industry as a growing method of customer interaction that we haven’t seen before. For instance, how many times have you hated a particular television commercial? If you are like me, the answer is millions. However, what can we do besides change the channel or hit the mute button? Not too much.

But with the way Web 2.0 is evolving, the web, search and other social media aspects, customers have much more control.


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Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.