Home > foldier, search > The age of reason in search

The age of reason in search

In the 17th century, the philosopher Giambattista Vico maintained that human history was cyclical and characterized by shifting emphasis on gods, heroes and reason.

Likewise, data search and organization over the Internet is exhibiting patterns similar to those of prior technology applications, which have become user centric. It happened in the hardware industry, where mainframes were replaced with PCs and licensed software. Data search and organization are poised to repeat a similar cycle of innovation.

The age of gods

In the mid 1990s, the Internet was still new. Searching was a portal based, mystic experience. You had to believe in a portal and use it as your gateway to the Internet. Search, as such, was not user driven. A person visiting Yahoo! or AOL was confronted with a vast array of directory-like categories and subcategories, within which information was labeled and organized. The search experience was driven by how the portal had categorized the information, and it was limited by what information was publicly available for search over the internet, within the various categories and subcategories.

Search heroes

The late 1990s saw the rise of search engines like Altavista and, later, mighty Google, which became the undisputed hero of its generation. Search was no longer limited by arbitrary directories. Suddenly the entire universe of data publicly available on the Internet could be explored through a search box. The search experience was use generated and free form. This was a significant breakthrough from the past. Google’s technological superiority commanded respect and admiration and gave it a dominant position.


This type of search is still dominant today but, foldier contends, it is inadequate for the Internet today, for two reasons.

First, the Internet is a platform. More and more applications are migrating to the Internet. Search is just a feature. The “traditional” search experience is only good for publicly available data and not for all the other data that is accumulating over the Internet through these applications.

Second, as people congregate in social networks and clusters, they increasingly want relevant content delivered to them. The traditional search model is very limited in its functionalities and revenue applications. It is only good so long as an user actively looks for data and content, but it neither brings data or content to the user, nor helps the user organize and share those data and content.

foldier has been conceived and designed to capture this new paradigm. The first cycle of Internet search has come full circle and has become user centric. It is time for search to adapt to it, and for data and content to be brought to the user.

Matteo Daste

Categories: foldier, search
  1. October 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Matteo, nice article. I like the way you applied the Gods -> Heros -> Reason paradigm to the way things are changing. There are no doubts that the user’s Internet experience must ‘consolidate’. There is simply not enough time in a person’s day to visit, learn and use so many different applications and information sources. If we can successfully delegate at least a portion of this task to foldier, we have a winner.

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