- RS: What's going to be the "next big thing" in web search?
GF: I believe that the next big thing in web search will be a form of personalization that is simple, unobtrusive, intuitive, and almost without exception better than the non-personalized version of web search. Two ways of getting this wrong are to (1) keep the GUI as is, implicitly build a user model, and show personalized results all the time, or (2) expose many new GUI elements to the user to give a great deal of explicit control for personalization.
The sweet spot -- the thing that works -- will most likely be a slight modification to the GUI, say a single new GUI element, that gives the user the power to tell the search engine what they like or dislike. If done correctly, we will all wonder how we ever searched without it, and it will be as if we get the best of both worlds: more control with minimal complication and a search experience that seems tailored to our own needs.
RS: At the beginning of 2009 what will Yahoo search look like?
GF: My hunch is that personalization will be so good that most users will look back to web search circa 2004 as ridiculously outdated. I also think that Yahoo! will have nailed user intent to the point that we will be able to tailor the result set to focus on documents that satisfy the need behind the query, instead of returning results that merely contain the same words as in the query.