Sherman’s Report on Search Engines

Google is on a tear. Is Google God? There are even sites devoted to Google idolatry. “In fact, it’s getting silly,” said search expert Chris Sherman. Some are questioning if it’s even a search engine anymore. Are they fundamentally an advertising company? With acquisitions like YouTube, do they really have a strategy? Sherman says yes, he’s convinced they do. Google has a list of its top 100 projects; 80 percent are search related. 20 percent are focused on what Google calls “Internet pain points.” 10 percent are classified as “blue sky.”

“ is on fire—they’ve impressed me to no end recently,” said Sherman.
He said they will roll out more of the “first-cousins of search”—like look-ups. The company thinks it has a chance to be the number 2 player after Google.

What about Microsoft? It takes them awhile to get up to speed, just like with versions of their software. Keep an eye on them, Sherman advised.

Yahoo! has become the major proponent of social search. The company is systematically reworking everything. Despite media flak, Sherman thinks it is becoming more of a media company.

All of the companies have made significant investments in research. To keep up with developments, watch the blogs the companies have now, with employees giving background and information.

Web 2.0 in Sherman’s mind is all about interactivity and employing content and technologies in unique ways. Some cool Web 2.0 tools he mentioned include Kosmix, Musicplasma, and Zillow.

Focusing on social search, Sherman gave an excellent run-down of the types, the problems, and what he thinks will work in the future. He discussed sites that offer shared bookmarking and Web pages (, MyWeb, Furl), tag engines (Technorati, Bloglines), collaborative directories, personalized verticals (Eurekster, Rollyo), collaborative harvesters (Digg, Netscape, Reddit), and even social Q&A sites—all representing interesting combinations of people and technology.

He sees several problems with current offerings, including scale and scope issues, tagging issues (language ambiguity, lack of controlled vocabulary, and human laziness), and, not the least—idiots! Sherman said the future is exciting. He expects to see more blurring or content and process, more personalization, dynamic interactivity (such as sliders for tweaking results), and more vertical/mashup specialized sites. As usual, he managed to cover a lot of ground, make it interesting and entertaining, and provide an expert take on what’s happening.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

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