Zoe What?

By Aaron Goldman

In our ongoing quest to spec out the perfect search engine, Bryan Simkins, our FedEx client, pointed me to this coverage of Zoetrope.

Apparently, Zoetrope is a joint initiative between Adobe and the University of Washington. Per Read Write Web, “What they're building is a tool that allows for manipulating the web over time. Instead of the snapshot of the web you see today when googling, Zoetrope will let anyone use keyword searches to discover archived web information and look for patterns in the data found.”

This is truly a horse of a different color. More akin to Google Chrome than Google Web Search. It’s essentially a shortcut platform that allows you to consolidate the disparate sting of searches that you used to perform when completing a task into one master “query.”

This demo shows some of the applications of Zoetrope…

Imagine the possibilities for branded widgets in this environment. FedEx could show historical package tracking -- view all the pkgs. you’ve ever shipped with a competitor and overlay FedEx’s pricing to show what you could have saved (or how much faster you could’ve gotten them there).

Or the Weight Watchers calorie counter that scrapes all the menus you’ve browsed the past week and gives you your point total.

The sky, er… cloud is truly the limit there!


Anonymous said...

This is amazingly powerful stuff. With the right support and the right users, the upper bound on this thing's potential is off the charts.

A couple things holding it back - this is a serious step-change for people who have struggled to simply become mildly proficient at utilizing simple web search. How will these people respond when presented with a tool like this. I see the path to adoption with all but the early-adopter crowd being a slow and muddy one at best.

Second, it seems to take a lot of intuition to really squeeze the value out of this thing and even beyond that, a penchant for information approaching that of research scientists. So much web of today's web search is just so damn simple...what street's the pizza hut on again? What is the population of Rome?

That said, I'm excited for the potential of this tool. Just because it may struggle with the masses doesn't mean I'm not awe-struck. Thanks for bring this to my attention.

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