Searching For A Better Search

When Google came on the scene, they raised the bar on search. Search went from something I occasionally use to something I use most of the time. I did not know that I had the need to search so much.

However, I am yearning for a better search engine. That is good for both Google (since they are slightly ahead of the game at this point) and competitors since they can do a Google on Google.

Depending on your search needs, your wish-list may be different than mine. I am also looking at it as a more geeky power user. Here is my list.

Better Profile Usage
I want better use of my search profile (I now provide this to Google) both implicit and explicit. I use Swicki and other similar tools to constrain search. So I am willing to provide explicit hints to the search engine if required. I would also like the search engine to implicitly see the results I am clicking on and bookmarking. I will be happy to provide a search engine my blog profile, my profile my flickr profile in addition to my search profile. That should give them enough hints to give me a few good, high quality results. Google does a great job when I am looking for something new. But I am not all that happy with what it does for the areas I am interested in.

Better Use of Contextual Information
An example of a context is whether I am searching for my work or for my personal needs. Other contextual information includes whether I am looking for vendors, recommendations, opinions, deals etc.

Better Clustering of Results
I would like better clustering of the results. Some search engines currently do this. But I have no control over the clustering parameters. Again, I will be happy to provide some hints to the engine (may be my own classification structure).

Collaborative Search
Collaborative Search may be the next big thing. In a collaborative search, a set of users collaborate on filtering the search results to improve the quality of results. Collaborative search, by its very nature, may be useful for small clusters or groups where people are looking for similar things.

Better Formatting of Search Output
I would like better formatting of output. It is good to see RSS feeds being one option. It will be great, if I can choose what I want to see in my search results besides links and some brief text around the search terms that is currently provided by search engines.

Continuous Search
I would love to have a facility called Continuous Search (I picked the term from continuous query processing in the database world). A continuous search is a search, that is repeated at specified intervals and only the new items identified. This way I can keep tabs on various things I frequently search for.

Ability to Specify Search Objectives
Finally, I would like to specify what I want out of the search. Is it a person, a company, a place, a document? I will be happy to specify something like result:person or some such hint in the search.

I can go on and on, but you get the drift. I am a power searcher and I find some of the most powerful search engines available today still a bit too limiting. As we make search an integral part of our web lives, we will need more.

Many of these features can probably be handled through search extensions and mashups. So building a great Search framework and let other developers innovate may be a way to do this.

7 thoughts on “Searching For A Better Search

  1. dorai, this is so well written I can almost see it in my mind’s eye 🙂 I’m also flying on the 10th, maybe we can meet at the airport for coffee?

  2. Kuppu,

    Please go to and search on keywords like “Search”, semantic-search, vertical-search etc. You will find a lot more.

    If you are interested, I can collect some of my links on search (my userid is dorait on and send them to you (or post it here).

    Have a great weekend.


  3. thanx Dorai sir;
    got ur links regarding search;

    me’s currently with a research regarding *freshness* in web search results;
    would be thankful to hear more about freshness;


  4. You can do custom searches in Google. You can also order results by date (instead of relevance). This should give you later results.

    Another way is to find Google search to find sources, and track them yourself. That is what our product InfoMinder ( does.

Comments are closed.