The difference between then and now is that instead of having a resume and a diploma to sell myself, I have a presentation and a business plan to sell my business. The same hunt for success is afoot but this time, my quarry are the elusive angle investors and venture capitalists looking to put some cash into the next big thing. Today I came across the TechCrunch.com website which provides news, resources and forums for start ups seeking funding. I was browsing the forums when I came across a funding search from a site called twerq . I read the posting and discovered the site was already launched and was just looking for more investments to fuel further growth, however when I visited the site and used the actual product I wondered to myself. "what problem does this solve?" and I couldn't come up with an answer. Apparently the site provides the service of searching the most popular search engines simultaneously and allowing access to the results in a single pane. Sounds convenient but it has several problems that are specific to search.
- People tend to stick to one search engine and that is that. Since I started using google search for all web search activities about 6 years ago I haven't had a need or desire to go to Microsoft Search or Yahoo search. Often the same results show up across all the sites (more often then not) so one is as good as any. Thus any single result list is good enough, there is very rarely any need to consult another engine and therefore it is unlikely to be useful to have tabbed results from each engine.
- Search is a "give me" online activity. People don't go to search to do anything but get the information they are looking for, sort of like the concierge at a Hotel. You don't care to ask him what his view on politics are (unless you have time to waste) you usually just want to know how to get to your room and who is going to take your luggage up.
- Once I am done searching the window gets closed. I rarely ever keep a search window open for access and since the accuracy of all the search engines is pretty good these days, chances are the initial query on the initial engine will return high placed results that are satisfactory for my needs and twerk's tabbed option goes unused.
- Finally, these days most web browsers allow the browser to initiate the search from a field, I use this field religiously on my firefox browser and the only engine loaded in my list is google. (Just checked that isn't true...yahoo is there but it might as well not be since I didn't know it was there until now!) Regardless , twerq would have to get itself into that list if it is going to even be loaded in my browser. Who types "www.google.com" to get to start a search any more if the field is sitting there ready to select?
It is clear that search results from a single engine are good enough for needs of pretty much everyone and for the other reasons mentioned above make Twerq's tabbed collection of the results something that is nice but beyond the needs of what people want. Some times "good enough" is as perfect as something needs to be. As if to confirm the fact that Twerq is probably not getting much traction from this tabbed search results feature is the recent launch of a new "hive" feature. Which frankly I am still trying to understand what problem it solves. It allows you to collect search results collaboratively with other Users who might be searching for similar things on the web. In essence it allows you to refine your query for media, stories or feeds associated with the target of your hive...but this if you think about it is nothing more than a second or third google query away. If you take a look at the Hive interface that pops down next to returned Twerq search results you will see what will likely scare away "Joe Internet" , goal criteria, collaborators, quick tags ...it just strains the mind as to how it would be useful beyond simply querying separately for images, or news related to your query. (remember the major search engines all provide these abilities) Again, it might be nice to collaboratively search for things, it is still an act that is done easier or just as easily using the traditional methods and therefore was "good enough" and didn't need any new solutions.
The old saying applies here, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
I did some more digging and found this page, which lists the settings for the twerq searched performed. I never knew that searching could be made to be so complicated! "Joe Internet" would be hard pressed to understand why there are so many options , let alone want to use them. I wish the creators of Twerq all success but unless they find a genuine problem to solve in an area in which a "good enough" service or product is not yet available, they aren't going to be doing too well on their funding search. Design by parsimony is a critical aspect of developing web technologies ...really any technology. Finding problems that most people would like to solve or that make their current actions take less time and effort to complete is the key to engineering solutions that take off in and of themselves without the need for superfluous, dials and switches to provide options for changing things that were never desired by the bulk of users in the first place.