Real Names

Much to my amusement, I discovered a faculty member who typically located items on the web by opening up Internet Explorer and typing in words or phrases she thought would be “reasonable.” Just the words, no scheme/protocol heading, and no www or domain suffix.

More often than not, her search strategy worked. That’s because of Real Names’ keyword technology, licensed by content providers and deployed by Microsoft via I.E. It was a clever technology, and was particularly good in that it supported non-Roman writing systems like Japanese and Korean.

Microsoft, the key invester (Verisign was another), decided to shut down RealNames earlier this month, and not for money reasons, or a lack of faith in the technology (oddly, they recently registered a patent of their own that’s strikingly similar in intent to Real Names), or the company. You can read about it on former Real Names’ CEO Keith Teare’s web log, though Microsoft doesn’t want you to.

This strikes me as a suspicious set of circumstances, but even if you’re not a cynic like me, the technology is a good one for both naive uses, users who want to browse the web in lanuguages other than English, and smart companies with a desire to market their products and services