Commentary

Grading The Next Wave Of Search

What's happening in the world of search? The entire buzz as of late has been focused on Google buying out or partnering with everyone on the planet, but what's really going on with that business that started it all? Remember that little tool that we all use at least 10 times per day?

A few weeks back I saw a site that appears to be a skunk works product for Google called SearchMash. SearchMash is one step in the direction of integrating video, blogging, images and the wikipedia. It's a great step, but it doesn't really take the direction that I would have anticipated. It appears that Google might be spending more time working on partnerships to become the center of your media universe than the tool to direct you throughout your universe. I give it a grade of 3 ½ out of 5 for design, and a 3 ½ out of 5 for functionality. It will be interesting to see if this ever migrates over to Google corporate.

Divvio seems to be another interesting idea. It provides the ability for users to create and interact with their own channel for audio and video. The interface is a great step and the concept is brilliant, but the source data and the sites it chooses to crawl are limited; the content itself is not fully reflective of the Web and its plethora of very relevant, very interesting content. Divvio doesn't take into account the Wikipedia, or text-based content, all of which are still infinitely interesting. You can use YouTube and a regular Google search, in conjunction with your favorites button, to pretty much create the same thing. I give Divvio a grade of 4 out of 5 on design, but 2 out of 5 on functionality.

Kosmix is another new engine I discovered that goes a step beyond the other players in the market, trying to create a unique channel that guides you to the content you're searching for -- but the categories are limited and the interface is not quite as dynamic as I would like. If you search for "spiderman" under the Games channel, you get a page that doesn't look much different than any Google or Yahoo search results page. But if you search for "san francisco" under travel, you get a very nice, very useful interface for surfing out the sort of information a travel consumer would find useful. Kosmix is aimed at hypothesizing what the user is looking for and delivering the right sort of content immediately, rather than creating a guide for them to reach out to. I give Kosmix 4 out of 5 for idea and design, and 4 out of 5 for functionality.

There are many other players in the world of search, including Rollyo and Pixsy, that allow you to create a master list of sites to peruse, or focus on the specific types of content such as video or photos, but when will we see the next great wave in search itself? When will we see the artificial intelligence layer that identifies the search, hypothesizes what users are looking for and delivers what they think they want? When will we see this layer of the Web applied to everyday life?

I'm certainly waiting. What about you?

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