Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Mesh’s hidden agenda

with 5 comments

I’m sat on my train home listening to last Friday’s (25th July 2008) episode of The Gillmor Gang; for those that don’t know The Gillmor Gang is a conglomerate of technology pontificators based in Silicon Valley that are headed by Steve Gillmor. On this particular episode they’re talking about what they think Microsoft are doing and are going to do in the online space – well worth a listen if you’re interested in such things (as I am).

They talk a lot about Mesh, XBox, Ray Ozzie, Live Search and the relative relevancy (or not) of each. They didn’t come to any conclusion about any of it but it was fun nonetheless although I do think they missed an important point about Mesh and search. Its something that’s been rolling around my head for a while and the point is this. If Mesh is a success (and I believe that it will be) then there is going to be a lot of information (gigabytes worth) per person stored in the cloud and across a multitude of devices that crucially only Microsoft has access to. And what is the best way of making sense of information of that magnitude? Search, that’s what!

Hence I predict that we will see a new kind of search engine from Microsoft. One that shows information from the web alongside and interspersed with your own content and that which your friends have chosen to share with you. If you are logged into http://search.live.com then Microsoft can return to you search results of YOUR OWN STUFF and that is a game changer in search. As Joe Wilcox said earlier today “Search should be about what’s important to you.”

Let’s take an example. Imagine you remember that you had recently been reading a Word document about balaclavas; you don’t know whereabouts you have the document but you know its in your Mesh somewhere. Instead of hunting around for it you head for http://search.live.com and search your Mesh from Microsoft’s own search engine. In your results you find the document that you’re looking for and also get back helpful information from Live Search including where you can buy the cheapest balaclavas and all the information you ever wanted to know about them too. Ever wonder why in Microsoft Office 2007 all the documents are saved as XML files? Simple…it makes it easier to search them.

Want another reason? How about being able to search through all of your Messenger conversations from http://search.live.com.

There are other ways that Mesh and Live Search can be mutually compatible too. As my colleague at Conchango Paul Dawson points out in his blog entry Live Services – Social Search – Collaborative research social search is evolving:

Using the Live Messenger services, and the Live Search services to create ‘social search’ – or in my book, a nice way of being able to share online research with someone – or a group.

it’s what we’ve been talking about for many of our clients. You can see this being used for a group, or a couple, planning a holiday or a trip, sharing their early research, and testing ideas on where to go with each other.

Paul and I have spoken about this a lot lately as we try and cook up some ways that we can use Mesh in the future. Mesh presents a great opportunity for conducting your research via a search engine and “shelving” your search results so that you or someone else can view them later.

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Live Search and Live Mesh– a winning combination. You heard it here first.

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, search, mesh, story

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Written by Jamiet

July 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Live Mesh

5 Responses

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  1. Good point – but surely there’s an even more important point to be made here? It’s not just that you’d be able to search your own stuff, but make your web searches more relevant based on what Microsoft knows about your own stuff. So if you’ve just been reading "The Charge of the Light Brigade" on your mobile device and then you search for "Balaclava", MS would know you’re more likely to be interested in finding out about the Battle of Balaclava rather than the Balaclava Helmet.

    Chris

    July 29, 2008 at 7:17 am

  2. Ooo yeah, good point Chris. So our behaviour drives the search results. interesting.

    Jamie

    July 29, 2008 at 7:22 am

  3. It’s one of the few ways that I think it would be possible to beat Google. Google’s results are great partly (as I understand it) because they know so much about me as a user – what I’ve searched for in the past, where I’ve clicked on in search results, and so on. And because I and most other people use Google exclusively, Google has more of this data than anyone else and so it’s a virtuous circle. But it’s only web search usage data, and that’s only part of what I do on my computer. Google owns web search but MS owns the desktop, which is an even better source of data about what I do, but at the moment it can’t access that data because it sits on my PC and a) it would be too obvious an invasion of privacy to upload it to a MS server, b) it would be too much data to send up to a server and store for MS, c) it’s not really possible to join the dots between what I do on all the devices I own. But when Mesh moves the desktop to the web a) becomes less obvious, b) goes away because all my activity is already server-side (and presumably MS will have built those server farms to hold the data), and c) goes away by the very nature of Mesh.
     
    Of course there are problems with knowing too much about what users are doing. Let’s imagine I’m Max Moseley and I have an ‘interest’ that I spend a lot of time indulging on the web, but which I don’t want my wife to find out about. The last thing I want to have happen is for me to search for something when my wife is looking over my shoulder and some inappropriate search results come up – search results that my wife will know are a result of what I’ve been doing when she wasn’t looking over my shoulder. It’s this kind of concern that, I think, has been behind the recent kerfuffle about what BT is doing with Phorm…

    Chris

    July 29, 2008 at 9:56 am

  4. Jamie,
     
    Although I have never personally used Mesh…I am giving it a whirl now to see if their is a greater level of control over who see what you do versus say SkyDrive.  This seems to be a little more interactive. 
     
    Thanks for sharing this with us as you have given me a new tool to play with and see all of its inner workings and dynamics.
     
    Have a wonderful and blessed day my friend!
     
    Greg

    Greg

    July 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm


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