Search Panel Podcast


John Battelle linked to an 83 minute podcast of a search panel done at MIT.

Some big names were on the panel, including

  • Safa Rashtchy
  • Urs Hoelzle, Google Fellow, VP of Operations
  • Gary Flake, Microsoft, MSN Technical Fellow
  • Eckart Walther, Yahoo!, VP of Yahoo! Search Products
  • Oren Etzioni, UW Professor, Madrona Venture Group

A few points I thought were stressed in the panel:

  • Search as an ongoing dialog with users: Users vote for features with how they search. Search is evolving to implicitly use instead of requiring advanced search syntax.
  • Tagging acts like anchor text: Browser bookmarks is a broken function. Tagging can be used to supplement anchor text.
  • More long tail content: Historical consumers of information become active creators of information.
  • Language overlap and machine learning makes translation easier: Statistical problem solving and machine learning can act as a Rosetta Stone if you have the same information in multiple languages. Many search related problems become easier as you gather more information.
  • Everyone is an expert: There is an expert on most every topic. One Seattle based audience member with a site related to the bird flu bitched about SEO's screwing him over multiple times.
  • Market research is a waste: Feedback is so fast and the user base is so large that for most search related ideas it is cheaper to test features instead of doing gobs and gobs of market research.
  • Disintermediation and mass amaturization are key: Many things associated with search are not necessarily search specific issues. Search is a convenient extension of many other things enabled by the low start-up costs associated with the web.
  • Uncertain about vertical search: Vertical search sites where the process requires significant user data or where the vertical search engine has access to important proprietary information is likely to stay. Many others will become beter solved by general search as the search engines better understand user intent. Many of the problems associated with certain types of vertical search are economics and rights based rather than technological issues.



Tagging acts like anchor text: Browser bookmarks is a broken function. Tagging can be used to supplement anchor text.

Interesting when Yahoo have just purchased

Interesting when Yahoo have

Interesting when Yahoo have just purchased

When you consider that many people add their links to their website, how fast ideas spread there, how many members there are, and the fact that many of the people publish those links on active channels with many subscribers who will see your site it adds up to be pretty damn powerful.

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