The reaction of many people to real time search is: what is new in this. Google already does it very fast so why can it not make its search faster? Another common reaction, particularly from my academic researcher friends — many are accomplished researchers in multimedia, databases, and related areas — is so what is really new in this? There is nothing new. This is a variation of a publish-subscribe paradigm that is old and can be scaled to do real time search. Interestingly enough, many of my these friends who are used to citing old research had not seen Twitter while discussing with me that there is nothing new in it. Really surprising — how people used to citing research could fail even to look at the site before forming opinions about it.
This surprised me a lot and I started thinking about it. Why does this happen? What was particularly surprising was the strong (negative) opinion by my two close friends who are very bright and thorough in their work. That forced me to think about it.
It appears that many top researchers really like, as argued by Thomas Kuhn in his book, to believe in the existing paradigm. So when a new idea appears, researchers are reluctant to accept it — so in place of thinking what could be done with it going forward, they like to see how this idea is like some of the old ideas. It is always easy to consider that a new idea is a variation of something that already existed, because in some aspects it will always be like that. But more useful exercise is to look forward and see how this idea could lead to new things, new ideas, or solution of new problems. By thinking that this is nothing but a variation of old ideas, we really miss on exciting aspects of what could be done.
The famous quote by Albert Einstein captured this quite well — but we always forget that:
â€œImagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.â€