I’ve updated my directory of desktop search engines and indexers to take into account the Yahoo/X1 tie-up and one or two other changes in the landscape since I created it. Yahoo!, as you have no doubt heard, is basically giving away a free version of X1, quite an excellent file indexer and searcher which would usually cost about $70. A nice deal, but all this leaves me with an odd taste in the mouth.
While I’ve been making a noise for years about this fundamental weakness in our computers (where we can find stuff online more easily than our own computer) why is it only when the super big boys get in on the act does anyone stand up and take notice? Enfish have been offering pretty much all this for at least five years and while they didn’t do themselves any favours by making their software worse with each new release, I always believed that gradually people would realise that finding stuff was important and cotton on.
But no. This episode seems to confirm that only when a big company comes along and pushes something right in our face that we wake up to its usefulness. I guess it being free helps. But how many other great ideas are out there that we are ignoring?
Another nervous twitch I have over all this: Given how jittery Yahoo!’s PR were over breaking embargo about the formal release of a product that had been flagged since December, Desktop Search is clearly big business. But is it for the right reasons? Are companies falling over themselves to get inside our hard drives because they want us to be more productive people, or is there something else afoot? Perhaps privacy concerns might start to return to the debate as these programs proliferate.