Monday, January 31, 2005

Personalization and the future of search

Richard Waters at the Financial Times wrote an excellent article on the future of search.

Craig Silverstein (data mining researcher, now a Director at Google) has a quote that leads into a discussion of personalized search:
    "It's clear that a list of links, though very useful, doesn't match the way people give information to each other ... How can the computer become more like your friend when answering your questions?"

    That means giving direct answers to questions, extracting data from online sources rather than giving links to web pages. It also means doing a better job of divining what the searcher is looking for, tailoring results more closely to what, based on past experience, appear to be the user's particular interests.
How can the computer be more like your friend? It has to know you. Like a friend would.

Your friend will give you and someone else different answers to the same question. Why? Because your friend knows you and what you want without you having to say everything explicitly. Information is implied in the long history of your interactions. Not everything has to be stated. Your friend knows what you mean.

So, why does your search engine give the same search results to you as it does to everyone else? Shouldn't it know you? Shouldn't it help you? Like a friend would?

[FT article via John Battelle]

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