Narrowed searches and
expanding problems"> The newest thing in clutter is blog entries. While blogs can provide interesting and useful content, entries that just refer to another site, as in "If youre interested in blah, theres a really great article about it at "can waste a lot of a researchers time. I had this happen when I did a search for information about using the new Mac mini and a media center.The results included an article that was useful, but much of what I found was a bunch of blog entries that were merely links back to the first article. In general, if I dont find what I am looking for in the first few pages of results, I will rephrase the search request. If that doesnt work after a couple of tries, I give up. Usually I will later discover better search terms and use them to eventually find what I am looking for. The value of a vertical search engine would presumably be its ability to narrow the search before the user even typed in a phrase. One way to do this is to limit whats being searched to a reasonably narrow collection of sources. Google could, of course, do this, and probably will. Read more here about Googles AutoLink feature stirring debate. I am not sure standalone vertical search engines will be able to compete with Google, MSN and the other majors. If a vertical really has a better search methodology, it would be much more profitable to try to beat Google at its own mass-market game than to go vertical. The ideal vertical search engine, as I said, would involve humans in the day-to-day collection and ranking of content. This is what About.com does, and is not too far off the Wikipedia track. Both use outside experts to gather content. Of course, neither is a search engine so much as a collection of content about particular topics. Having real people working alongside the spider technology to tune results could give a small search engine a leg up on the majors, but at what cost? Most of the companies that used humans to create online directories are long gone. So I am pessimistic that small search engines will be able to outgun the major search providers. But my eyes are open, and Google isnt meeting my needs nearly as well as it once did. If someone can show me a truly better search engine, Ill use itand so will millions of other people. Googles support is softer than it probably realizes. Contributing Editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. Before joining eWEEK.com, David was executive editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk and has been a columnist for PC World, ComputerWorld and other publications. Former executive producer of DEMO and other industry events, he also operates a technology consulting and event management business. A full bio and contact information may be found on his Web site, www.coursey.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
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