Louis Gray Asks if the "Now" Web is Losing the Ability to Discover "When"

Louis brings up a very interesting point about, what is essentially, the limitations of all of this information that we have at our fingertips.

Our attention spans are getting shorter. While being constantly interrupted or distracted by new toys, new sites, new things, new messages, new people, and new ideas, we’re delivering a stream of consciousness into a void which quickly gobbles it up and waits for more. Scads of sites are helping us find out what is trending in real time, and deliver us the “now”. What’s hot now. What’s peaking now. What’s being said now. But the focus on the cutting edge of time, combined with reduced capability to search our history is making finding what happened “when” a lot harder.

Louis gives some specific examples of what he’s looking for.

  • What was the first blog to cover the service backtype.com?
  • When was the first time Denton Gentry left a comment on my blog?
  • When was the first time Robert Scoble mentioned the word Twitter in his blog?
  • Who mentioned FriendFeed on Twitter first? MG Siegler

A much broader example would be it you wanted to go back and figure out which blog was the very first blog to scoop the iPhone back in 2006. Even using advanced search on Google’s Blog search you would be hard pressed to find the definitive right answer.

For example this is one of the results I found when I searched for “iPhone” on posts written between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2006:

In the search results it’s marked as 2006, but when you look at the title or go to the page you can clearly see the post is about the 3G S vs. the Pre and was published in 2009.

I have to admit Louis’ post really has me thinking. Maybe I’m being a little naive or overly optimistic, but I commented on his post making the point that I believe that eventually the technology for discovering the “when” will catch up to the stream.

What do you think? Is the “when” being lost to the “now” web?


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