It is still too early to know how this is faring, but Chi noted that SearchMonkey is Yahoo's stab at investing in an ecosystem to attract folks interested in indexing structured data. Opening the platform has paved the way for MySpace, LinkedIn, Yelp and others to influence search.
Ultimately, Yahoo wants to create world in which people with "distributed intelligence" cooperate to improve search because even the thousands of programmers at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft "won't come up with everything" regarding search, he said.
One imagines Allen, Tague and Murphy breathed an internal collective sigh of relief. These men and their companies are all working on providing vertical search beyond the 10 blue links the general search vendors currently offer.
Tague said there will be a place for vertical search engines in the future and these won't necessarily cannibalize top-line search, and he is optimistic that these vertical searches will reap some ad revenue. He also said companies will have to resolve how the social graph interoperates with search in an age in which walled gardens keep data tethered.
Allen said Siderean wants to help assemble search and discovery tools on demand in a business context, which is something Google and co. won't do at this point. He said he anticipates that the paradigm of search being about getting a Web page is evolving to help users find people, places and things, so that results pages will reflect an aggregated analysis of what you want to get back.
In short, through semantic technologies that divine the meaning behind queries and the application of the social graph to search technologies, search will get smarter.
One audience member asked the panel whether and when we will be able to "skip the search results page" and receive geographically dispersed data in some other way, thanks to "folksonomies" and other relevant groupings of behavior.
Such a solution seems like some hybrid of search, social networking and wikis. Wikia and others seem to be moving in that direction, but the search results page remains.
In conclusion, no one knows what the next-generation search engine will look like, although the panelists agreed that semantics and social collaboration will play a role. Do you have any ideas?