TEDx Boston: How Persistent Search Enables Content Curation

At the TEDx Boston Pre Adventure Panel on The Future of Search tonight, we learned a great deal about how search and searching are evolving online. However, one interesting note that sent me researching was the concept of “persistent search” and its impact on the way individuals are searching and search technology. Persistent Search isn’t new. Its implementation is already well established with such programs such as Yahoo Pipes and Google Alerts.

Burnham even wrote an interesting blog post on the subject in 2006 titled Persistent Search: Search’s Next Big Battleground. There are many advanced persistent search companies today, including those with cool applications, such as Dapper.

However, when viewed through the lens of content curation, persistent search is a key platform on which quality curation becomes extremely easy and perpetual. I’ve conducted some research on persistent search and identified two ways it increases the impact of quality content curation.

Automation of continuous query activity across feeds

Persistent queries are fixed queries that ping repeatedly via either an RSS feed or a search engine. For example, you may use Google Reader to store your query and then ping that query, intermittently, across the Google index. The results include close-to-real time insights that could prove useful. Sometimes you will receive a Google email with the snippet of the search results, or be able to view news via Google Reader. As a curator, a persistent delivery of insights means that there’s no active, ongoing searching. Just sit, wait, read, and curate. This is the perfect way to be the lazy curator, making persistent search do most of the finding of relevant content.

Results are predictive as well as historical

Persistent searches are used mainly as online monitoring tools and can be used to measure the current sentiment of viewpoint of the web. However, given that persistent searches can indicate the current sentiment, this means that they can also indicate future perspectives or future sentiments.

Now there are many real-time, online monitoring tools. They include PubSub, one of the original persistent engines, and Real Time Matrix, an online brand monitoring tool, that have been used in this way. But let’s get back to the role of a curator. If a curator is creating a historical collection of information artifacts, could a digital curator be able to add a new dimension of predictive analysis or sentiment analysis to their collection of insights? Unlike simply a reporter of sentiment measurement, a curator leverages sentiment to share historical insights as well as future predictions on their queries.

Persistent queries, easily curated for quality insights, relevant to sentiment from the past, in the present and with predictions for the future? Wow, the content curator’s use of persistent queries can be exceedingly powerful and exciting. Given that content curation is adapting from various aspects of search, I think in the future we’ll see more persistent search applications in content curation.

  • Despite this activity, no one has yet to put together an end-to-end Persistent Search offering that enables consumer-friendly, comprehensive, real-time, automatic updates across multiple distribution channels at a viable cost.
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