Search is broken…(and you broke it)

I was about to agree with Steve Rubel regarding this slightly longwinded request for meta-search tools, and then I hit this:

Today all of us are generating a torrent of content across lots of different sites – sometimes hundreds of them. This includes everything from financial transactions your bank site is logging to email that sits in your Gmail or Hotmail account to content you’re posting on Facebook and, increasingly, documents you’re creating using rich internet applications like Google Docs. In addition, lots of data comes back at you too – replies, account alerts, pokes, etc.

I just had to throw the bullshit flag right there. Maybe Mr. Rubel & Co. are generating all this data, and spawning alerts and pokes and all that jazz. Unfortunately, most people are logging into their bank account to pay a few bills, booking an airline ticket or a rental car, picking their fantasy sports team, and searching for new quilting patterns. Contrary to “popular belief,” the average internet user doesn’t have ten social network accounts, use Gmail for anything other than a spam dropbox, or spend their days Twittering, Jaiku-ing, or Meebo-ing their fingers off. Those that are, and aren’t being paid to do so, will likely get jobs soon that don’t pay them to do so (and/or will fire them IF THEY ARE doing so).

Maybe 1/10 of 1% of the internet users on the planet will ever see the need to dig around for an email they sent three years ago via their personal account, or archive a bajillion feed items for the purpose of sorting through them next autumn while trying to scratch together a keynote speech for some overpriced conference. The other 99.9% of users will click over to their favorite search engine, find the chicken marsala receipe, and go about their evening polishing off a couple of bottles of wine with a few friends, sans laptop, Blackberry, or those iPhones with their insidious operating system lockdown.

Everytime I hear this benign babble, I put one more nickel in the “I’m betting on the Mahalos of the world” pot, and move on to checking the stock quotes.

Disclaimer: the author has Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo! Mash, and a couple of other accounts which he rarely visits a second time. He occasionally posts pictures to Flickr, and does not maintain his account (since his browser bookmarking still seems to work just fine). He Twitters every now and then, under lock and key.

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