Chris Sherman, president of SearchWise, USA, kicked off his 3.5-hour workshop Monday morning with an in-depth look at Beyond Google: Web Search Update 2008. Yep, Google still reigns supreme in search, but there are still plenty of options out there and more on the way.
“Blended search is here to stay,” he says. Blended or universal search, or Search 3.0 (whatever you want to call it) incorporates results from non-web information sources into normal web search results that scans images, news, video, shopping, and book content. But the big three (Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!) are still having a tough time with “true” video and image search. Search engines search text not image pixels, leaving video search in a primitive state relying on metadata, close captions, file names, and link anchor text to make sense out of it all. Microsoft Live Search is making the biggest inroads here, he says.
While 2008 was a year of incremental change, only a few “interesting, small projects” were delivered to searchers, he says. The search innovators continue to roll out more local news, mobile, vertical, financial, and people search options, but what’s on the horizon? Sherman sees more personalization, more dynamic interaction with search and websites, more vertical sites, mashups, and the semantic web, supported by detailed ontologies, structure and metadata.
For Sherman, one of the more interesting sites is Newsblaster, still in the research stage at Columbia University. The site incorporates news articles from big players such as the Washington Post, The New York Times, and scores of other reputable sources into a single computer-generated article that’s remarkably well-written, citing sources along the way. And in 2009? Be prepared for a few surprises, he says, especially when the economic unrest subsides.
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