At Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan discusses how search 4.0 will integrate human elements and that editorial decisions will help keep the freshness and relevancy of results. (In case you were wondering, search 1.0 from '96 used on-the-page criteria, search 2.0 from '98 used off-the-page criteria, and search 3.0 from 2007 included universal search).
But times are changing. Google Personalized Search is already incorporating our preferences in search results. Social networks can be tapped into for some personalized results. Mahalo uses human editors, as does Wikia. It's something that we're likely to see more of in the upcoming months.
Is Search 4.0 today's reality, though? The Sphinn discussion suggests that Danny is a bit early in his assessment. It's coming, but it's not yet here. (Still, Danny's pretty darn good at what he predicts in terms of search, so I think the column is timely.) On that note, I don't think Danny intended to say it's here now (we know it isn't), but that he's all ready to coin the phrase "search 4.0" to mean human powered search.
Gary Price mentions that library and academic tools have been human-powered for years. Gary has a point, but these aren't as mainstream as Google. I believe that the interesting part of this all is that Google is taking that direction to keep its results top notch (and to avoid gaming).
Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.