Reverse Search

I have a special interest in reverse searches. It has been used in many forms such as reverse looking up IP from domain name , looking up a phone number using an address etc. But I have seen a couple of examples lately that go a step further.

Straight or forward search involves entering key words or phrases and then finding an assortment of different media results – get web pages, definitions, images, videos and other resources.

Reverse search, as implemented by Google Goggles and TinEye, uses the very result of a search as an input. While Goggles lets you use a photo as an input, TinEye lets you use an image as an input to your search. I have read about similar technology for videos too somewhere.

I am pretty sure things can get complex with patterned searches – say – find videos where a speaker is addressing a large crowd and there are more than a million tweets relevant to that event and bring up the associated communities – maybe do that temporally (like Zoetrope) to see how popular a leader is over time.

What I am also interested in is, for want of a better phrase, anti-search – a mechanism whereby information finds me rather than me having to painfully enter keywords or upload symbols and sort through a large number of results (by the way that method can be and is still  a very useful way in which I learn from diverse perspectives) to get the information I need.

I am still thinking how that can happen. It would be like some gigantic personalized database which could understand my digital context and provide intelligent inputs.

I am sure there are existing agent driven architectures (and semantic web agents?) that can contribute to this. Maybe then I should also be worried about getting information overload and thereby argue for effective (network trust based) filtering mechanisms.

But perhaps, this is still not what would I mean by anti-search.  What happens in a case where I need to solve a problem? Search has become central to my problem solving ability, sometimes bypassing in no small measure whatever necessity I had to think critically & apply commonsense. Further it has become one of the most time-consuming activities in my schedule.

Anti-search would probably start by promoting critical-thinking in problem solving situations suggesting views/dimensions that could be possibly related to solving my problem. Almost certainly, the inputs to such an engine would be complex. For example, when creating a website and looking for help, I could upload a flowchart of my home page instead of, or in addition to, some key – words/images/audio/video/webpage. That way, I would set context for an intelligent agent or community or network to “feed me” information that helps me create a really good website.

That’s a thought, really. How about if I upload a business document and it not only finds me information-about, but also templates, designs, best practices, seminars, training……

I am not sure how much of this makes sense right now. But definitely something that needs more articulation from my end.

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