Search: Google’s 10 Percent Problem

September 11, 2008

I love it when Google explains the future of search. Since Google equals search for more than 70 percent of the users in North America and even more outside the US, the future of search means Google. And what does Google’s helpful Google Web log here tells us:

So what’s our straightforward definition of the ideal search engine? Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know. That search engine could tailor answers to you based on your preferences, your existing knowledge and the best available information; it could ask for clarification and present the answers in whatever setting or media worked best. That ideal search engine could have easily and elegantly quenched my withdrawal and fueled my addiction on Saturday.

The “universal search” play announced at the hastily conceived Searchology news conference–anyone remember that?–has fallen by the wayside. I have wondered if the BearStearns’ publication of the Google Programmable Search Engine report and the suggestion that Google may be angling to become the Semantic Web spawned that Searchology program.

I don’t think search is a 10 percent problem for Google. The problem is bandwidth, regulations, traffic, and the market. After digging through Google’s technical papers and patent documents, I have reached the conclusion that the GOOG has the basics in place for next-generation search; for example:

  • Search without search
  • Dossier generation
  • Predictive content assembly
  • Integration of multiple functions because “search” is simply a way station on the path to solving a problem.

Most of the search pundits getting regular paychecks for now from mid level consulting firms assert that we are at the first step or Day One of a long journey with regard to search. Sorry, mid range MBAs. Search–key word variety–has been nailed. Meeting the needs of the herd searcher–nailed. Personalization of results–nailed.

What’s next are these search solutions. The reason that vendors are chasing niches like eDiscovery and call center support is simple. These are problems that can be addressed in part by information access.

Meanwhile the GOOG sits in its lairs and ponders when and how to release to maximum advantage the PSE, dataspaces, “I’m feeling doubly lucky” and dozens of other next generation search goodies, including social. Keep in mind that the notion of clicks is a social function. Google’s been social since the early days of BackRub.

There you have it. Google has a 10 percent challenge. In my opinion, that last 10 percent will be tough. Lawyers and other statistically messy non-algorithmic operations may now govern Googzilla’s future. If you want links to these Google references, you can find them here. My rescue boxer Tess needs special medical attention, so you have to buy my studies for the details. Sorry. Rescue boxers come before free Web log readers. Such is life. Sigh.

Stephen Arnold, September 11, 2008


One Response to “Search: Google’s 10 Percent Problem”

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