American Idol of Search – your search isnt my search

Om Malik in his blog asked the question “ Will a people’s collective be able to beat Google at the search game? “

The simple answer is – of course not. The better question is – “will objective search remain the people’s choice in search engines ?”. In other words, is there such a thing as a best answer for most questions and is that what a significant number of search users want ?

Or will we see the same trend that we have seen in TV news. That we want our objective answers painted red or blue. That objectivity is very subjective.

Does American Idol voting give us the best singer ? The best entertainer ? The favorite of the best phone dialers ?

Better yet, is the political candidate that gets the most votes the best choice, or just the winner ?

I personally think that for personal search, where the results are geared towards relevancy (as opposed to freshness, ala icerocket.com) will end up in two flavors, branded and algorithm based.

Branded is just what it implies. I trust a given source of data for my search. I trust this source for this type of search, that source for another. I want mynews from foxnews.com or i want my news from CNN.com. If i do a search on intelligent design, i will have an expectation that my results will be ranked differently from each.

Algorithm is what we have now. Plug into google or icerocket or yahoo, and you get what is hopefully influenced only by the blackhat SEOs and economics, rather than some agenda to some school of thought.

Dont be shocked if at some point some cable news channel is reporting on some religous group condemning a search engine because of a perceived slighting in how results are returned.

A search for Christmas on Google, Yahoo, Icerocket, Ask, all return vastly different answers. One offers a top 5 site, which links to what should be a very valid link and besides being a domain parking site, has beer and wine sales listed near the top. No big deal to me. But a huge marketing issue at some point to somebody.

Social networks, where userscollective judgement is imposed, will become targets of the internet marauders who congregate on like-minded websites and discussion forums and patrol for dissenting thought and attack when they find it. We havent seen much of it yet, because the social bookmarking sites are mostly driven by technology. You get some Apple, MicroSoft, Open Source bigotry, but its considered acceptable right now

But outside those sites, the internet marauders come out in force.

If i blog about something that could be considered friendly to Democrats, the right wingers come out in force and spam the hell out of my email and blog comments. The same thing happens from the other side as well. In about the same numbers. Of course the more one side attacks, the more the other side marshalls their side to counter attack. Its crazy.

Not only crazy, it will be impossible to eradicate the influence of these maraunders.

So rather than fighting them, search sites will join them.

I have zero doubt that in the future there will be sliders or some equivalent that represent “the flavor” of search that users will look for. Looking for information about the war in iraq… push the slide rule to the right till you reach Bill OReilly flavored search, or slide it to the left for the Al Franken flavor. THe results are then influenced by the brand you prefer to associate with.

The news is no longer just the news. A holiday is no longer just a holiday. A song is no longer just a song. A search result will no longer just be a search result. We will blow it up into a symbol of something must larger. It wont beof course, but it will happen anyway.

The Web 3.0 – You stay on your side of the web and I will stay on mine.

43 thoughts on “American Idol of Search – your search isnt my search

  1. good

    Comment by imdbcn -

  2. History has one thing in common. The majority will eventually destroy the minority when the minority becomes enough of an annoyance to the majorities tradtions and lifestyle.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. Look it up and research it for yourself. I like him because I see whole Left-Right debate as theater to make it so people can feel they are apart of something, they can be on a “winning” team. BOTH SIDES ARE MANIPULATED.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  4. With the passage of time google gets weird, most of the time it came up with all the gibberish result nothing relevant to the respective search at all.

    Comment by Nessh -

  5. Until programs can actually understand the content they encounter, this is all just a lot of hype and minimal benefit!

    Comment by whales -

  6. Btw this engines is a weak concurrent to local search machine e.c. Yandex for Russian Federation. That talks about technical power global searchers is low, and it’s main problem. I think engine power growth logarithm (Murphy) and blogosphere growth exponentially.

    Comment by ~Bear'Z Blog~ -

  7. I just added Smartest Guys and War Within to my Netflix queue! I can’t wait! But I too am surprised that Mr. Direct-to-Consumer is suggesting Amazon instead of some downloadable method… ~M

    Comment by IT中国 -

  8. I think that search engines care more about money than ideas. It is all about the bottom line – making money.

    Comment by tabbie -

  9. Amen…I don’t go to google for valuable content, I’m not sure that anyone does. Search is just how I find a handle. Example=> If want to know who makes Purell..google. Bam! Gojo Industries. Ok..let’s say I want to know how much Gojo made last year, who owns it, whether their public or private, how big the market is, who their competitors & partners are etc (ie the information that’s actually valuable) I’m not going to google for that. I’m probably going to Dun & Bradstreet or Factiva or something of the like.

    Only after I get to Hoover’s do I find out that Purell is made by an affiliate of GOJO named Qualpak and that GOJO actually sold their retail unit to Pfizer. Ok..now there’s some information I can use.

    So organic or algorithmic search is just how I refine my keywords.

    I wonder how many people are like me…

    Comment by Matt O'Donoghue -

  10. Great explanation of where things are going searchwise. People seem perfectly content with getting their news from like-minded sources (Franken vs O’Reilly) to the point of not being able to agree upon the facts.

    It’s very difficult to debate an issue and come to any reasonable solutions to a problem if we can’t at least agree upon the facts.

    Comment by Ed Kohler -

  11. I think it would be easier to use pre-formatted meta tags. The problem with the old meta tags was that all sorts of keywords would be strung together – instead of a multiple choice test it turned into an essay of ‘what popular terms people search for’.

    Instead of trying to write a search engine to tell the difference between selling and product information, ‘force’ the webmaster to do it himself. For a product site, he could tag the site on a 1-10 (1=selling, 10=info) scale, such as SP=9. If it’s not accurate, he loses searchers. If he doesn’t use the tag at all, he loses searchers. So honesty becomes the best policy – self-enforcing rules work best.

    Something similar for blogs and news sites (your O’Reilley/Franken scale perhaps).
    I don’t like automatic ‘personalized search’ because that assumes people always look for similar things. Also assumes people change their ids when using a multi-user (family) computer.

    Comment by tom -

  12. 你好~马克 库班
    hello~mark cuban
    keep bloging~

    Comment by GUANG -

  13. The sliders are a really nice way of doing things. But instead of right and left, could you substitute “Trust” and “Don’t Trust?”

    I don’t think I need to have searches return results from websites that share my opinions. I don’t think anybody needs that. Of course it could be economically successful. But how much utility can you find there?

    Right now we have a system developing that is attempting to quantify a level of authority. This will eventually merge with symantic tags and produce a pretty nice high quality search.

    But trust? That always stumps me.

    Comment by Bob Calder -

  14. There is already something out that is a little bit like what you’re talking about; quite some time ago Yahoo launched a service with a slide bar allowing you to search for pages based on how commercial/non-commerical they are.

    However, it’s all very statistical, and it’s fairly easy for software to detect when somebody’s selling something; there are lots of special keywords, and a price tag is a pretty big giveaway. However, a computer program cannot tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat anywhere near that easy.

    Now, you could explore the social network thing, but that would require a significant amount of time and input from users in order to add any significant value to a search engine. Not to mention the fact that people whose input you trust to help classify and organize your search results may not always share the same point of view as you. It’s much more complicated than it may seem on the surface, and probably not the best approach to solving the problem.

    Personalized search will not help greatly in my opinion, either. Words are words. Bookmarking a Democrat’s blog as a favorite will not likely have a drastic impact on your search results, because the word Republican is probably going to show up in that blog quite a bit too.

    Until programs can actually understand the content they encounter, this is all just a lot of hype and minimal benefit. Personalized search may be the future of marketing, but it’s not the future of search.

    Comment by Tyler -

  15. It’s a pretty simple task to block google’s ad results from displaying. Even from submitting information to google’s ad hosts.

    At home I block out all major advertising providers. I wouldn’t click on them anyway, and they just slow down what surfing I do.

    Now if someone would find a way to block all those registrar holding sites from searches, that would be useful. I really don’t understand why ICANN allowed that crap to happen in the first place.

    Comment by Jeremy G -

  16. I guess alot of people tone out the advertising. I don’t really understand how Google works exactly. I don’t see much overt advertising on there. I like the simplicity of the page though, and the lack of fruit salad. I think it’s more the sidebar that is easy to ignore, that is the advertising. I like how it loads up fast.

    I guess the search engine does control what you find, and therefore where you go. Never thought about that before.

    I think that most people are naturally uncomfortable when exposed to concepts that disagree with their belief systems. I think that is the way people are, mostly. It just scares ’em. If they are there to have fun, and something comes up that is kind of alien, they might want to run back to the familiar, to calm their nerves.

    Comment by Haake -

  17. After reading your post, reading some feeds and surfing around, I just stumbled upon the web 2.0 workgroup’s Swicki right in the middle of their page (http://web20workgroup.com/). This socially contextual search seems like a start to what you are describing…Very interesting use of technology and pretty cool, to boot.

    Comment by Andrew -

  18. What I know about SEO and search marketing, placement, tagging and blogging is minimal.

    But — I am starting to think I am the only one that is able to do a google search and the ad words don’t register in my head — neither do the “suggested ads” at the top and bottom. I ignore them. No matter if it is Yahoo, Google, MSN, Ask, etc. My mind populates the site visually and I discount advertising (as far as I know, huh?).

    Often, while Christmas shopping this year, I would choose — say BestBuy from within the search — even if they had placed ads on top or on the side. Why? Because I don’t want to be advertised to when I am searching for “product information.” Yet, the more I read here, the more I feel like I am on an island alone. I work for a financial institution and when we run our ad campaigns I can breeze by our ads in the “printed” newspaper and the online version — without even realizing they are there. Same with our outdoor. Same with our Intranet if something doesn’t interest me.

    So, marketers out there — is that what GenY is doing? How are the search companies addressing this/these “mind” issues? I am not building a search company — I just want some insight. I can’t be the only person that just totally shuts down on all advertising …?

    Thanks for any insight or feedback.

    Comment by Kurt -

  19. Just for the record – BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!

    Comment by Ron -

  20. Did you miss intent driven search? The basic idea is that the search engine will understand your intent and look for the answers at trusted sources.

    For example, find the next train from paris to lyon will be understood as a public transportation query. The engine will look at the local transportation web sites only rather than some travel site promoting itself as a train web-site.

    An example of that maybe :-

    http://www.google.com/transit

    Works only for portland but will eventually be part of a worldwide service?

    Comment by av -

  21. Possibly an answer lies in a collective where information is distributed in a raw form and ten filtered and re-presented using Wiki-like technology – – a classic example was the old days with the wire services – the story was literally dumped onto the wire – with confirmations and government filtrations to follow – – I use to use an old ham radio and an asr33 tty to pull the information raw and read it – – thought the disclaimers, filters and censors that followed were also enjoyable reading –

    Comment by M. T. Powers -

  22. A holiday was never just a holiday, news was never just the news, and a song was never just a song. Not since I read basic cultural theory texts like Roland Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’ and John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ anyway.

    Comment by dave -

  23. Totally unrelated topic. Just read on ESPN that Keith Van Horn is out because of flu.

    You should start giving the players and the front office flu shots – will help in productivity. A lot of organizations that I know of do it.

    Comment by David -

  24. OK, good explanation on the process concept, but your statement “(as opposed to freshness, ala icerocket.com)” is bogus. I am utilizing icerocket as a search engine on my blog http://www.notimewasted.blogspot.com. I’ve pinged etc…. and over and over I cant even find my blog on Icerocket. I dont believe icerocket is any more unbiased than google or yahoo. I can even link to your blog and it wont come up.

    Comment by D.J. Morrison -

  25. Additionally, on custom search:

    We already have the ability to create the “custom internet.” China and several middle-eastern countries have become quite accomplished at creating a national subnet with filtered links to the wider internet.

    Or how about Surfwatch and similar software?

    Index services have also been a cornerstone of the online experience even before search really took off. Yahoo originated as a searchable index, but only sites already manually entered into the index were searched.

    So there are definitely existing precursors to doctrinal (intranecine?) search.

    Comment by Jeremy G -

  26. I agree pretty much 100% with the original post. I’ve been noticing more and more recently that the big wide world of the internet facilitates choosing your friends and screening out everyone else as much as it facilitates meeting new people with different perspectives.

    I do it myself. I used to hit dozens of sites, newsgroups, email lists, participating in discussion on many many topics simultaneously. That has, to put it mildly, been curtailed of late. Now the internet is becoming a way to hang out with my friends, who are located in far away places (Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Canada, Alaska, etc etc).

    I think that is of genuine usefulness, but I can definitely see that there is an increasing sectarian … something happening. People who are out on one fringe or another (I admit it, I’m out past the Democratic party on a lot of issues) are grouping together and feeding off of their own group energy to create virulent super strains of whatever doctrine they adhere to.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon, and it’s far too late to actively stop it now. As to the past homogeneity of the United States, I just can’t agree. There was homogeneity on a practical level (everyone in your community looked like you, perhaps prayed like you, and spoke the same language as you), but throughout the entire territory that the US now occupies, you had significant variation.

    I think that the ghettofication (not a word, don’t care) of the internet is, in part, a reaction to people’s local community being “invaded” by foreign ideas. It’s the online equivalent of Klan marches, lynching, militia communes, Puritans (Pilgrims to a lesser extent), and border vigilantes.

    I wonder whether this is perhaps just a phase though, a violent reaction to a sudden change. The question is how many children will grow up to be even more radicalized versions of their parents, and how many will engage in a kind of intellectual solidarity movement instead.

    Comment by Jeremy G -

  27. Here is an interesting take on the future of the internet: http://www.robinsloan.com/epic/ project from the Museum of Media History. Be sure to check out the update of the presentation http://www.robinsloan.com and look for the update.

    I’m an Alex Jones listener, http://www.infowars.com, and I agree with Alex that companies will let the current infrastructure we know as the internet go into decline while building an updated, faster, but more controlled internet. OH and as far what you will say about Alex Jones, he says it himself. Don’t believe what he is saying. Look it up and research it for yourself. I like him because I see whole Left-Right debate as theater to make it so people can feel they are apart of something, they can be on a “winning” team. BOTH SIDES ARE MANIPULATED.

    Comment by Chris Monahan -

  28. Here is an interesting take on the future of the internet: http://www.robinsloan.com/epic/ project from the Museum of Media History. Be sure to check out the update of the presentation http://www.robinsloan.com and look for the update.

    I’m an Alex Jones listener, http://www.infowars.com, and I agree with Alex that companies will let the current infrastructure we know as the internet go into decline while building an updated, faster, but more controlled internet. OH and as far what you will say about Alex Jones, he says it himself. Don’t believe what he is saying. Look it up and research it for yourself. I like him because I see whole Left-Right debate as theater to make it so people can feel they are apart of something, they can be on a “winning” team. BOTH SIDES ARE MANIPULATED.

    Comment by Chris Monahan -

  29. I think Mark’s view of “Custom News” is certainly the future. Actually, what I see myself doing quite soon is having a custom RSS feed that comes from the 5 news bloggers whose “Philosophical Venn Diagram” most overlaps mine.

    What I need is a news “service” that allows me to click on where I agree/disagree with some of the most prolific journalists and bloggers on the net. Like I want to click on:

    Yes – Agree with Michael Savage on tax cuts
    No – Disagree with Michael Savage on the evils of outsoursing

    Yes – Agree with Mark Cuban on the importance of innovation in capitalism
    No – Disagree with Mark Cuban that the moon is made of cheese

    etc…

    The service would then intelligently learn my philosophy and give me that type of news… and introduce me to journalists and bloggers I might never have found on my own. It’s sort of a “best fit” algorithm that dating services and social networks already provide.

    Comment by Trey Ratcliff -

  30. It’s interesting to see the different points of view commenting here, with little realization that they see what is dictated by power (point of view distortion or amplification…or just plain greed) That said for most search term with any profit can be controlled by sploggers and blackhats currently, to the point that when someone creates a page or site that is completely relevant, that information will not display unless the sploggers copy and tweak it for first place😉

    In the effort to make money companies can go overboard in exploiting the Algorithm of each search engine. Each search engine places strength on different aspects of a page or the content, which is why each search engine has different results for the same term. A 10% match of the top 100 results for a search term is a very close match in results, when comparing Google to Yahoo or MSN. The only search I have seen match top results is a search for the term “Miserable failure” turns up Bush’s bio in first result on Google, MSN and Yahoo….A bit to the left no? What you see here is the result of lots of hard work, to force you to see what a group of people feels is very important…they are controlling the “power” of the Internet.

    I don’t feel that Search Engines will join these marauders, but they will continue to try to build a better mouse trap to extract the relevant information, while figuring out a way to take the profits out of the pockets of the sploggers, so they can put it in theirs….like say Froogle, shopping.MSN or Shopping.Yahoo. When you get right to the point, there will be profit for anyone that is able to communicate the thought or (search term), with the most profitable search terms being the most exploited.

    In a recent article on CNN http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/12/23/john.bartelle/index.html John Bartell reviews his thoughts on what the future of search might be. Clustering (an effort to group information) is mentioned as well as Tagging of information.

    Adam mentioned contextual advertising, search history and toolbars in his response, but with our without toolbars, the information has already been tracked to Carnivore ( DragonWare Suite now replaced by other software and the patriot act….try not being paranoid now). BTW Adam, if you search for Budweiser with a given “toolbar” that does not have a contract for profiting from the linking to Budweiser you just might end up on the “Quilmes” website…it’s all about profit and spyware for a large number of such applications

    …..it’s just like your favorite paper Mark, it’s about working with the system for “power”, not reality.

    Comment by MrBsHouse -

  31. “.. will become targets of the internet marauders who congregate on like-minded websites and discussion forums and patrol for dissenting thought and attack when they find it.”

    Or create that dissenting thought. We’ve had the “fifth columnists” and their counterpart the “thought police” for quite some time on the Internet. How about all the mind manipulation that went on in discussion boards by the stock manipulators? Same old stuff, just online now.

    Comment by Robert Oschler -

  32. The disconcerting (possible) future and present is that it is now impossible to have a large communal discussion. Everything is done through fractured cliques. As a result, we run the risk of not being able to contextualize everything in terms of a larger society. We are simply too fractured. On the positive side, this allows for an infinite number of voices to be heard. But, it ccould create so many sidebars, rather than contributing to a large, public conversation.

    Where does this lead? Will everything be so individualized that it allows us all to have our voices heard? Or will we all be in our own figurative glass boxes, able to read, but not really engage one another?

    Comment by dan -

  33. The disconcerting (possible) future and present is that it is now impossible to have a large communal discussion. Everything is done through fractured cliques. As a result, we run the risk of not being able to contextualize everything in terms of a larger society. We are simply too fractured. On the positive side, this allows for an infinite number of voices to be heard. But, it ccould create so many sidebars, rather than contributing to a large, public conversation.

    Where does this lead? Will everything be so individualized that it allows us all to have our voices heard? Or will we all be in our own figurative glass boxes, able to read, but not really engage one another?

    Comment by dan -

  34. Awesome! It’s really cool to have someone like JM log on drunker than me!

    Comment by Kevin Glennon -

  35. What you are describing is nothing new. Maybe to search engines, but not to people or history. The USA was a homogeneous nation for most of its history. That is changing. It is no longer good enough for me to disagree with you, and still keep something in common (we’re both white, we’re both christians, we both share the same values and culture, I can trust that you are enough like me that you will not destroy me). Now when we disagree, that is all we share in common, we do not see each other as a like kind (you don’t look like me, I don’t see myself in you, your ideas sicken me, and you’re a threat to my way of life).

    Look at Europe. Look how those nations with lagre numbers of immigrants are changing. Paris was on fire for over a month. There were bombings in Spain. You might call these acts of terror, but in their respective communities, there is compassion for “ours”. In the minority neighborhoods, they view events from a one sided perspective, just as the other side of the isle views their perspective.

    History has one thing in common. The majority will eventually destroy the minority when the minority becomes enough of an annoyance to the majorities tradtions and lifestyle. Any acceptance of the minority will be betrayal of self. It is very difficult to step out of your shoes and look at life from a different point of view, one of a different class.

    What can we pray to? Money? That our greed is what we will have in common when there is nothing else. That search engines will care more about money than ideas.

    Who knows. But I wish you a Merry Christmas if you’re a christian. Otherwise it’s happy holidays to the prick.

    Comment by JM -

  36. Call me an optimist (YOU’RE AN OPTIMIST!)but I believe the good eventually will chase out the bad. Eventually, someone finds a new or better way to do things and is more successful. It’s not a perfect system – remember Beta? – but in general, it works. And on the Internet, where startup costs can be low, there’s more of a chance of it succeeding. Yahoo! had a huge start and name recognition; Google came along, topped it. If Google gets fat and confident, somebody else will come along. (Just as you are trying to do with your businesses and the Mavs – find a better way of doing things.)

    Comment by Ray Barrington -

  37. You make a great point that these specialized blogs will be branded.

    Microsoft is trying so hard right now to take some search business from Google, and I really think this insight will be the key to their success. I wrote about this same topic in my blog post “How Microsoft Can Win Search”:

    http://www.sproutit.com/bigact/2005/12/21/how-microsoft-can-win-search

    Comment by Charles Jolley -

  38. Now THIS is why I read your blog, Mark. Definite thought leadership here — because thought leadership isn’t about answers, it’s about asking intelligent questions.

    So when I dig on you, note that I’m RIPPING on you, as a fan. Feel free to rip back.

    My question back: we’ve seen thousands of search engines come and go. We KNOW that Google is quickly becoming a media service and less a search engine. Think of it as Google/AOL/TimeWarner now.

    Knowing that (and here’s the question), will an application-based search engine through RSS and other content-based technologies become the next engine? In other words, do we go to http://www.searchengine.com for our results, or do we customize our point of view, and then use start->programs->searchengine to find what we’re looking for in the future?

    kevin

    Comment by Kevin Glennon -

  39. Unfortunately those marauders control this country and they always will. When religious groups completely takeover the internet, I’ll probably have to pay extra money to visit sites that are part of the underground network and aren’t controlled by the religious police.

    Comment by Rob -

  40. Contextual search is slowly appearing, Google has spoken about how search history will soon be used to better index results for each user (of course you can switch search history off if you are paranoid).

    I think that’s the only way to do what you’re thinking. SE’s store huge amounts of data on what results we click, it makes sense to start tailoring results to the individual rather than who can increase their pagerank the most.

    The next step is using that information to tailor banner ads and such (ala Claria)

    Comment by Adam -

  41. “Dont be shocked if at some point some cable news channel is reporting on some religous group condemning a search engine because of a perceived slighting in how results are returned.”

    Already happened, search google for ‘jew’ and adwords gives a link to http://www.google.com/explanation

    Comment by Adam -

  42. Mark, I see that your Yahoo Christmas search example is My Web 2.0. What is your Yahoo ID? I’d like to connect to you there. That’s the real deal anyway– not limiting search to sites you trust, but focusing search to people you trust.

    Comment by Daniel X. O'Neil -

  43. Wow, is that depressing.

    Comment by Greg Linden -

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