Monday, August 29, 2005

The frontier of search

Terry McCarthy at Time magazine reports "On the Frontier of Search", covering innovations in the search and the future of search.

The article starts with an example of ubiquitous personalized search:
You land late in the evening in a city where you know nobody. You did not have time to book a hotel...

You search for a hotel room; the screen of your cell [phone] shows you pictures of several hotels in your price bracket, with views from individual room windows. Your search engine ... tells you that your favorite blues band will be playing at a festival in the city's park over the weekend. The engine can search your desktop back home, and it reminds you that a college friend e-mailed you a year ago to say he and his wife were moving to this city (you had forgotten). You decide to invite them to the festival.

What you have just tasted is the future of search.
Gary Flake has a nice quote that motivates personalized search:
"Search will ultimately be as good as having 1,000 human experts who know your tastes scanning billions of documents within a split second."
Gary Flake used to be at Yahoo Research, but was recently poached by Microsoft.

Findory has a nice mention in the article:
One of the hottest and most controversial new areas is designing software that will get to know individuals' interests, mostly through their search history--the clickstream. Findory, a Seattle-based news-search site launched in January 2004, provides access to news stories and blogs. As you start searching for certain types of stories, the site gradually learns about your preferences, and the home page evolves to mirror your interests.
A9's storefront photos, Yahoo and Flickr's tagging ("better search through people"), and Oren Etzioni's KnowItAll research project also were mentioned.

[Full disclosure: Terry interviewed me for this article.]

See also comments on the article from Gary Price at Search Engine Watch.

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