The New York Times this weekend put the spotlight on a research project Microsoft is working on for next-generation search that is more like a search-oriented wiki than Google's own SearchWiki.
No, this isn't Kumo. Microsoft's SearchTogether is a breakthrough and a break from traditional search, which is executed solo. SearchTogether lets people at remote locations perform searches as a team, or as the Times notes, "dividing responsibilities and pooling results and recommendations in a shared Web space on the browser."
One imagines such a product could be a smash hit from anything in high schools, colleges and universities, where students have to work on group projects, or in scientific research of any kind. Researchers in Redmond, Wash., for example, could collaborate on search projects with counterparts in Russia.
The Times article notes:
"People doing a joint search can divide the chores, sending half of the top results of a query to one team member and half to another, for example, to avoid duplicating work. When you sign on, a drop-down menu shows your current collaborations. Click on a topic and you'll find automatic summaries of the team's searches, as well as links to the pages, comments and recommendations. Team members can work synchronously, with everyone online at the same time, exchanging chat messages that are shown at the bottom of the browser page. They can also work on their own."
Sound like any current collaborative tool you know? Yes, that's right, it behaves like a wiki. SearchTogether is a kind of wiki for search, and is even more of a wiki than Google's new SearchWiki.
SearchWiki lets users reorder and comment on searches, but as ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick notes, it's not really a wiki. It doesn't let people work on searches together. The people commenting are still walled off from one another.
Microsoft SearchTogether is far more like a wiki than Google's SearchWiki, which Danny Sullivan puts through the ringer on Search Engine Land in this interview with Google Product Manager Cedric DuPont.
Don't take my word for it. See for yourself. You can download it here and play around with it using Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.
It's clear from DuPont that Google SearchWiki isn't going away anytime soon, and a Google spokesperson confirmed for me that no changes were planned. But when will a real search wiki stand up from Google? The Google spokesperson told me Google is not currently working on anything like Microsoft's SearchTogether.
Maybe Google, as the leader in consumer search, should start. What do you think?