The Serendipity in Search

Hunting - searching, if you will - for takeout last night, I came upon Eden Wok on 34th and Park. It was food and it was Chinese, I inferred, as I bellied-up to the counter and ordered a large pork and vegetable to go.

"Pork!?" the incredulous Eden Wok employee shrieked, just as I became aware of the yarmulkes and intense facial hair. "This is a 'kosher' Chinese restaurant!"

Sure, fine. Unfazed, I ordered a large sesame chicken and took a seat.

And what, you ask, does this have to do with vertical search? Well, nothing really, unless we agreed that my shapeless search behavior might represent a bulk of overall search behavior, which conflicts with the popular belief in this industry that every consumer knows exactly what they want, and the more finely tuned the search engine, the happier the consumer with be.

Verticals make perfect sense, for sure, and there's no doubt that general engines will continue branching off into specialized engines, which, in turn, will subdivide still further.



But in our haste to streamline search, I fear we may lose something along the way. Streamlining search leaves no room for randomness or the opportunity to be led off track, only to find exactly what it is we didn't know we really wanted; the singular chance that an impromptu trip to Eden Wok would bear fruit in the form of the best sesame chicken I've even had in my life.

And while that certainly wasn't the case, it shouldn't diminish the bigger message here: whether searching New York's sundry streets or the World Wide Web, idiosyncrasies and juxtapositions are to be prized, just as their exclusion is mourned.

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