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Old 03-02-2005   #1
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Search Convergence

How search is going to be taken to other places by the engines.

MSN Search was up first, Oshoma Momoh, and wished Yahoo! a happy birthday. He said they think a lot about this topic, this is where they are excited about. Search today in 2005 is you find what you need in a fraction of a second, but you often need to do more, refine your search, click and more - taking a lot more time. Today's reality is you don't get the right answer right away. The dream is to answer, discover, recall and publish any information anywhere and at anytime. He said you want the answers on anything, PC, mobile, game console (xbox), on things that you would not image. What might convergence world look like? He said that all things (advertising, shopping, research, blogs, people, music, tv, video, sharing, email, messaging the list goes on...This will all revolve or resolved around search. He then spent a few minutes showing off MSN Search and the desktop product, which was nice, he showed some relaxing pictures. What's different in the "c-world"? Search as an ingredient (search in context, enhanced user experiences, entirely new experience), Natural computing (computing, storage, ram, cheap, voice, ink, gestures, devices), Online everything (pictures, video, tv, music, news, blogs, rss, advertising, worldwide). He said imagine asking the search to bring back pictures of my sister, it will figure it out based on knowing visually who your sister is. Happy one month birthday to MSN Search.

Next up was Ask Jeeves, Jim Lanzone. He explained that ask started off as a question/ask service in 1998. He said there are currently certain things we can't do, like answer the question as to "where are my keys?" Then he brought up when they bought Teoma, which was a first big step for Ask Jeeves. They stuck with the original premise of making it very easy to use. They started along a path that is beyond mere html documents. "The Staircase": Step 1 is the Web with billion of pages. Step 2 is PC & Media and Step 3 is Mobile. He then pulled up a book named "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negroponte from 1995 and quoted a few things. "Computing is not about computers anymore. It is about living." In Q2 please expect Ask's first mobile product, Mobile Smart Answers. He then showed off some of Ask Jeeves structure data, smart answers (they started doing this in 2003). He said that smart answers are exactly the right way to deliver to mobile environments. They just recently purchased Bloglines that has a mobile product right now. He then showed off Ask's desktop search. He showed how embedded video works well in the desktop search tool, he showed a T-Mobile commercial plugging Jeeves. He quickly moved from desktop, to web to my jeeves. He said Ask is currently looking to integrate the desktop results within the Web results but its a challenge. He then showed Bloglines and explained the importance of monitoring the Web.

Google was next, Marissa Mayer. Google thinks search is the most important aspect. It is a way to navigate information, on the Web that is the way people do it. Google local had more pageviews then Froogle during the holiday shopping season when it was not linked from the home page, which says something. They introduced Google Maps - its a cool tool, she said they are very user friendly. She then typed in Hilton and it showed the results on the map that were brought up, its pretty cool. She showed how direction in NYC can take you around the world, because of all the one way streets, so she clicked a button to "reverse directions" which made it quicker in distance. Marissa then moved over to personal information. In Oct. Google announced Desktop Search, and she showed examples. She then move over to the communication space. Email is the #1 application on the Internet. Search is a great way to organize your email, hence the announcement of Gmail. Don't worry about organizing your email in folders, in fact, she said there are no folders. She then showed some usability aspects of the gmail application, you know the way they thread email conversations together, which is really nice. They recently acquired Picasa Photo Organizer and Marissa shows it off. The most popular feature in Picasa is to share photos. Noticed that she did not wish Yahoo! a happy birthday.

Gerry Campbell from AOL thanked Danny for letting him speak, he loves search. He gave a story on marbles, and how to find your marbles (sorry for not providing the context). How is search changing our lives? People have access to content, there is a ton of content, publishing is easier, and the technology is bringing it all together. Users are taking control of their information, and search is the fundamental tool for navigating the digital life. Generation One is search the Web for text. Generation Two is searching images, audio and visual AND local. Generation Three is about intelligent answers; AOL calls it snapshots. Query driven programming, better answers, faster. He typed in "vince carter" and bam, he has all the information about him. And he went through a ton of examples of "snapshots." From local, sports, music, movies, cakes, stocks, calculators, and games. He explains that these things are all built on the building blocks to make convergence possible. So in the future, it needs to be "me" focused. The real convergence is in the realm of ads and content. He said content and ads in the future become one and the same. Generating "auto leads" directly from search and content.

Last up was Yahoo!, Bradley Horowitz, he said today is the literal 10 year anniversary. Provide the world's most trusted search experience for users, publishers and advertisers. Yahoo! also considers themselves as a media company. In the past it was all about "mass media", today we can easily do "micro media." At Yahoo! they think a lot about "my media", its the ability to do both mass and micro based on the user. Digital Media Dartboard; music and the ipod, TV and tivo, movies and netflix, and publishing and my yahoo. Yahoo! believes that search lives at the center of this world. He said when he uses his tivo it takes him forever to find the content he wants, search would work well with that. He showed The Apprentice image as an example of mass media and then some viral marketing piece that is more micro media - hence "my media". My Yahoo! Search, next.yahoo.com - this tool allows you to define "my web." He then shows Yahoo! Desktop Search. Then moves on to Y!Q, which springs open a DHTML search box and results up at the "moment of inspiration." (Which makes me think, why didn't Google discuss the new "auto link" feature in Google Toolbar 3.) Then he shows off Yahoo! Mobile and throws up dozens of new products, features they added. The last slide read, "We Are Just Getting Started."
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Old 03-02-2005   #2
claus
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>> We Are Just Getting Started

This really seems like the appropriate way to sum up a whole lot of the stuff that has been reported sofar. Not just from Y! but for all the others as well. It's also somehow a very precise description of the current state of "Search Engines".

There's a really long way to go still, but there's a lot of good ideas coming from all of them it seems. I especially like the AOL idea of snapshots, although i haven't seen it; you shouldn't really have to use a SE to "search", in stead it should inform you (upon request of course).

There's an important difference here, relating to who does what and how it is done, but i guess that's too advanced for now *lol*
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Old 03-02-2005   #3
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I believe the "snapshots" idea has been Danny's pet project since 2003 in his article Searching With Invisible Tabs or at least it was a part of it.

Keep in mind, Ask Jeeves has been provides "snapshots", but what Ask Jeeves calls "Smart Answers" for 2 years now. They are a small, but bright bunch of people.
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Old 03-03-2005   #4
claus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
I believe the "snapshots" idea has been Danny's pet project since 2003 in his article Searching With Invisible Tabs
Just took AOL Search and Ask for a spin. If it wasn't because both of them have sponsored listings taking up the whole area above fold i would definitely use these two more. Do take this seriously SE guys: The "experienced surfer" will note this instantly[1] and this does take credibility away from your SERPS however good they are - and that is the exact thing you don't want to happen.

OTOH, it seems they both really try to do some of the work for the searcher, which was what i hinted at above.

The dropdown you get at AOL when you start typing "cake" does seem to match Danny's idea rather well. It's basically the same tech as Google Suggest, but it's refined so that it's topical in stead of a long alphabetical list. I'm just wondering why the snapshot (link) is not more elaborate, as now it takes stock info for "CAKE" per default, while it has already suggested "food" and "music" during the search process. So imho, these other subjects should at least have links in the snapshot as well.

With Ask, the results page you get when using their own example from the front page ("coffee shop Seattle" when i tried) is really informative. Both the smart listings at top and the related subjects to the right and at bottom.

Added:
The vague idea i had about what "snapshots" were was actually more like this Encarta result for "Nobel prize", ie. a more elaborate set of categories to choose from. Too bad that the Encarta results for "coffee shop Seattle" is only fully adequate because of the on-topic sponsored listings - and that the link to web search is so weak (it's not really there at all).

---
[1] Note: Yes, i have heard the rumour that "80% of surfers can't identify sponsored results". Note that i wrote "experienced surfer" and that these are the people recommending to less experienced ones. Add to this that most people haven't been on the internet for long, and that the people without strong SE preferences (aka. "the power of habits") are the ones you will want to influence - then do the math

Last edited by claus : 03-03-2005 at 03:30 AM. Reason: Added some
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