Saturday, September 7, 1996 by Dave Winer.
I'd like to float a couple of ideas. I thought it was worth a special DaveNet piece.
Search engines take too long. By the time they index a story, I'm not interested it anymore. I want a "Just In Time" search engine. One which indexes the top fifty news sites every thirty minutes instead of every sixty days.
When I look up a current news topic I'd find pieces written in the last couple of hours. Limit the crawler to news-oriented sites that are current on a 7-by-24 basis. Refresh the site as often as CNN refreshes Headline News.
It's a chicken-and-egg thing. Until such a search engine exists, the value of 7-by-24 sites won't be realized. It's the next level of competition in search engines. I believe that before the November U.S. election, we'll have such a site in place. It'll be total killer, just like Alta Vista was when it first came out.
Most software assumes the user has a single machine. If you can relax that assumption you can build a whole new kind of software, stuff for users who have a machine they can delegate tasks to. After a half-decade of dreaming about personal agents, I think we're finally ready. I have the need myself, since I receive hundreds of email messages a day, many of which contain valuble information that I'd like to use or refer to in the future.
People with an extra computer can have their own search engines. All their written work is filtered, cross-indexed and sorted. If you can make it flow thru email, it can be more useful to you. The other machine, your mail organizing database, is busy categorizing and sorting things while you're writing and reading. This is not beyond the leading edge. We can set up these kinds of servers now, in 1996.
Having a second machine can make you more powerful. A software company that specialized in making apps for people with more than one machine could find a niche with lots of fertile ground and could create a following among net users. This is one way of looking at the big new software market that the Internet opens up.
The MIDAS process, which I wrote about several times in August, is moving forward. A network of websites is developing. Proposals are being written. The promise is being delivered on. It's coool.
Earlier today I posted a protocol for Mail Agent processes. The protocol is already implemented in Eudora and Frontier. With more mail clients coming on the Mac, it's time to document the protocol, creating a platform for mail agent scripts like the ones described above that work across all email clients.
Technical users and developers on other platforms may find this interesting. We'll evolve the spec to work on Windows. Help and comment are appreciated.
Clients, servers and adventurous users. Three sides to the problem. We keep on trucking... Let's have fun!