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Has search failed to evolve . . . enough in 20 years?

Steve Arnold points to two interesting papers that challenge the notion that our current consumer search engines are ‘done’ or even ‘good’.

Search Engines Elderly According to New Paper
Original: September 11, 2011

“As society is quickly becoming more mobile phone based, the internet industry workers should shift developments in that direction. That is the assertion of the article, Is Web Search in Need of a Shake-Up?, on Locker Gnome. The article reviews an academic paper of similar name, Search Needs a Shake-Up, by Oren Etzioni.

The high and the low of the paper is that search engines’ techniques have largely not changed in the twenty years the world-wide-web has existed and that is simply not acceptable. Since the invention of the internet and web, the devices conducting searches have changed beyond what Gene Roddenberry ever imagined.

Once, web surfers were tied down to desktop computers, but now the majority of web users are accessing the internet via their Smartphones or tablets. Because of the limits (mainly screen size) of such devices, web searches should have evolved to become more user-friendly, moving beyond the algorithms that got it thus far. The article explains,

“A search engine of the future should be more than a trained monkey that knows how to find strings of text — it should be able to intelligently discern the connections between what’s being sought after and pertinent entities — such as people, places, and things — for a more sharply relevant series of results.””

Here are the original thought pieces:

Is Web Search in Need of a Shake-Up? by Robert Glenn on Locker Gnome

Search Needs a Shake-Up, by Oren Etzioni

I think that this would make an interesting debate at our library conferences. Is search done? Can it evolve? What’s better? What’s the next step? Is social search an improvement? What about academic search?


Posted on: September 19, 2011, 8:20 am Category: Uncategorized