Japanese government backs search technology

Search technologySearch is big business. Search engines are the applications driving the Internet. But more than just business, search also includes the baggage of accountability, transparency, and the power to make data accessible to the individual. Perhaps it is this power of the Net that now has the Japanese government backing a research project for next-generation search engines, pooling talent from about 10 different technology companies.

A quote from the article at Financial Times:

The Japanese project is comprised of 10 partnerships, each tasked with a specific next-generation search function. For example, the government has matched NTT Data with Toyota InfoTechnology Center and Toyota Mapmaster to create an interactive, personalized car navigation system. Other partnerships involve NEC, Hitachi and Sony Computer Science Laboratories. The ministry of trade has allocated Y14bn-Y15bn (€89m-€95m) to the project.

The power of search

The Japanese government is not the first to start out on a search venture. As reported at the Search Engine Land, the French and the German governments also focused on their own search efforts. The German Theseus Project, which started after the French Quaero Project, are both aimed at creating multimedia next-generation search engines.

Governments into technology

The motives for funding a search effort are obvious. Foreign governments will increasingly find it difficult to leave the keys for information in the hands of foreign entities. There are both pros and cons of the approach towards new search efforts. On one hand, search is more than a killer application. It's the life line of Internet. Without the technology to organize the mammoth data pool of the Net, all that data is mere meaningless bits floating around in cyberspace. This very argument justifies the need for search to move into an open domain where the technology that actually powers the search is more open and accessible for review. An open-source search effort? Yes, something on those lines is what I believe will emerge as a necessity on the Net of the future.

On the other hand, the latest efforts from governments may be seen as measures to arrest the power of information that is easily there at the command of every individual using the Net. Separate search efforts are more of a move into arresting control away from users than to actually provide better search products.

While governments represent an incredible source of funds for technological innovation, what are your thoughts on the "technical inclination" of the governments? How do you see this affecting the techno-scape for good or for worse?

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