Looking at the Future of Search

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land modestly started by saying he had some trouble with the “future” of search – at this point he doesn’t really know what’s coming next. But two things he predicted back in 2001 have happened this year: personalized results and what he terms “blended” search. Those of us in the library field think of this as federated search—but others won’t call it that.

Google calls it universal search. This has actually been a big change for Google—bringing in local results, maps, news, photos, video clips, books, etc. onto the first results page. Bottom line—a lot more specialized (or vertical) search results are coming in.

Ask 3D debuted in June. It uses an algorithm called Morph to determine the selection from relevant verticals, which it now presents in 3 panes of content. Danny finds some aspects of the Ask presentation to be confusing—he feels it needs some finetuning.

Microsoft and Yahoo! have done similar pushes in this direction but it feels like they are just doing catch-up to the others. Verticals will become even more prominent, said Danny. The metaphor for presentation is still being worked out…but still, this is an exciting time.

And Danny said he still believes in personalized search…though he said Google’s personalized search is more of an ego search rewarder. But no other engines are matching what Google is doing. He thinks that personalized search should survive the privacy issues and will prove to be helpful.

What about social search? Eurekster was doing this back in 2004—it experimented with friend clicks reshaping results. Yahoo has dropped many of the features it hyped. The reality—it hasn’t really succeeded but perhaps it will indeed play a role. Facebook’s social network data is potentially useful but there’s the issue of who is a “true” friend—and it’s not a real search engine.

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

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