Moderating this session is Danny Sullivan talking with a group of search engine executives about the future of search, what is going on currently and how they are making search better.
Yahoo spoke next and discussed Flicker first. Flickerís content is all submitted and its discovery is by the overlay of social networks. They want to find and store these pictures. He says that is hard to show a picture of a horse and have a computer tell you itís a horse. He says you can get people to do the heavy lifting and have human beings help determine what is importance and provide the information. The privilege to decide what is important should be given to the people. My Web is an example of this, and says the selfish motivation to grab this information and save it. Its works great. Flicker is a visual blog in a way, as they share their pictures and life with the community. Overlaying things like social search with general search is great.
Google talks about the Semantic web is getting a bit better. He says the next version of communities, is to have to have people tell the computer what they are thinking. There are ideas of communities and its lets people decide what voices are important of them. Trends such as semantics have been observed and that it looks promising for the future.
Yahoo: Personalization is important. The opportunity to change the user experience and slide into a new generation of experience. The challenge is to bring in new experiences. The history of personalization has been good. Some of it has been red herring, as you chase something and find out people donít want that. Doing the tasks and capabilities to extend the engagement opens up a lot of opportunity.
MSN: They think a lot of community. To summarize community, there are answers that people only in there community know. Community is an important part of searches future.
Ask: They launched something called My Jeeves last year. The notion to opening to the community, lets people get exposed to it. Tagging is important but for the vast part of queries daily tagging isnít always possibly. Askís technology incorporates social networking technology. Their engineers all have these social technologies books on their desk. The technology will allow Ask to find experts in those communities. In regards to the semantic web, they can label the communities, and tell what they are about. In May they launched Zoom, and lets people get more in depth and they can identify what related searches are important to that query.
Yahoo: There was a big fear that Flicker would turn into a wild west type of thing. With adult images and such. Its hasnít turned out that way and people have been quite helpful. Folksonomy has been a part of this. They introduced clustering recently, and you can get queries clustered together. Another feature they launched was Interestingness, itís a way to measure how interesting an image is. He gives an example of how your mom may favor an image more than a strange. On the open web people try to game the system. They understand the relationships between people, and Flicker has been very helpful.
Danny: Another big change is the embracing of maps, and the exciting about this is the adoption. How do you see maps changing the metaphor of search? We will be able to fly through results?
MSN: They released Virtual Earth, and you can type in the three queries and these things pop up on the map. Itís really eye opening to do this type of search. You will go back.
AOL: Mapquest is an AOL property. He says they are his favorite features. They are working in the local market. The interesting thing about local is that its many facet. Mapping is the Rosetta stone for local. Its might be an exaggeration, but it will be an important.
Yahoo: Archive.org is a fun site to waste some time to look back in the past what things looked like. The ability to navigate through time will be fun. Using a map and navigating over time what it looked like in the past, or going to concert venues and such will be a next step for exploring some emerging areas.
Danny: Most people in search these days have jobs. Sometimes they are not even allowed to graduate. Where is research headed?
Google: As search becomes more central in peopleís life. Things like dealing with information, user interfaces and so on are where some of the research is going on. Google invited a bunch of researches to investigate the problems and ways Google can help. Google is pretty typical as rest of the industry, thinking about shorter projects in short time, and then long term projects about human and computer interactions. In their research lab its pretty grounded.
AOL: AOL has a research activity which may surprise some people. They encourage Google and others to focuses on this. They donít want to solve all the worlds problems. They spend a lot of time in IR, and incorporating thumbnail results and so on. Research is something that isnít just refined to the academic world.
MSN: Research is fundamental for them. He says search seems like a conspiracy, as search has to make it relevant. They launched their search engine on Feb. 1st. and they are concerned with core metrics. Rank Net is a new way to rank these pages, and they have people there to think about the best way to use Rank Net. The question is whether they can have a closed loop for people to help their team give them what they want.
Yahoo: He was surprised at the amount of research going on. Yahoo was pretty modest at first, and today itís a great place to do research. More and more people are becoming attracted to Yahoo.