Commentary: The Year of Video Search

If 2006 is to be the year of digital video, as I predicted in my last column, then it seems to follow that 2006 should also be the year of digital video serarch.

An interesting conundrum began taking place in 1999: streaming video found an established user base in corporate America at about the same time we saw a proliferation in knowledge management tools. But video search never kept pace with text-based knowledge management search technologies, even when created and marketed by the same companies.

Some blamed lackluster video search sales and implementation on competing formats, claiming that one dominant format would eliminate the need for vendors to create multiple search solutions. Others claimed that search tools were much too expensive—which was partially true as products from Excalibur and then Convera (an Intel/Excalibur partnership) hovered around the $150,000 per-unit range, although equally robust products from Pictron came in around $45,000 per unit. Still others argued that video search was not mission critical or that digital video capture had not reached critical mass within the organization.

The latter argument held the most merit, as those of us who come from pre-computer production days remember having to mentally catalog a library of tapes by their location on a shelf or the number/sequence of little blue dots on the video case spine. Yet even when video capture within large organizations did reach critical mass, and many files were captured or transferred to computer hard disk, meaningful video search lagged way behind. It was as if, thanks to the Windows graphical user interface metaphor, all the video files on a computer hard drive could still be cataloged mentally like their blue-dotted, high-shelf physical counterparts.

Fortunately, 2006 stands to be the year that video search itself reaches critical mass. One reason for this inevitable movement is fairly obvious: Google. Building on the rudimentary success of sites like Altavista, which only cataloged video types, Google’s video search—and its recently opened Google Video Store—allow robust online searches in the detail that we’ve come to rely on for Google’s text-based searches.

Another reason is AOL’s acquisition of Truveo, which was announced on in January. While the company was created in early 2004 by Tim Tuttle and Adam Beguelin, the search engine was not released until September 2005. As a sign of just how popular video search is, AOL wasted no time in acquiring the company whose technologies "continuously crawl the most popular video content sites on the Web in real time to provide consumers with the most updated and relevant results that include breaking news, sports, and entertainment video," according to the press release. It goes on to suggest that this approach allows Truveo’s search engine to find "a large selection of popular video that cannot be found in any other search engine."

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