I found this tidbit particularly interesting:
MSN is working on making its search product more personalized, incorporating individual users' behavior ...When I was at Amazon working on personalization, we used to joke that the ideal Amazon website would just display a giant picture of one book, the next book you want to buy.
Eventually, according to Payne, MSN search will become so sophisticated that users will receive search results proactively - i.e. before they even know the want to search for something.
Maybe the ideal of information retrieval is to provide relevant, helpful, and useful information even in the face of very limited explicit data about what each person wants. Maybe the ideal search engine requires no search at all.
It may be a goal that we never completely can reach, but still one to which we should aspire.
See also my previous post, "Finding and discovering", where I talk about the Implicit Query project at Microsoft Research.
See also my previous post, "Personalized search at PC Forum", where I said, "If you need to read minds to prevent [people] from having to do work, well then you better read minds. They'll think it's your fault, not theirs, if you don't give them what they need."