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Search Questions for 2010: What’s On My Mind

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Happy New Year to the Noisy Community and everyone else in virtual earshot! I hope everyone is entering 2010 well-rested and ready for great things. And I don’t just mean shiny new gadgets.

For me, 2009 marked the end of a decade-long run at Endeca, where I focused on bringing HCIR to enterprises. I’m particularly proud of two professional accomplishments: writing a book on faceted search, and organizing the SIGIR 2009 Industry Track.

But past is prologue. I spent the last several weeks of 2009 as a Noogler, and I launch into 2010 living and breathing search on the open web.

What’s on my mind? Here are some top-of-mind questions to which I hope to have better answers by this time next year:

  • Exploratory Search: how should we determine that users want a more exploratory search experience, rather than one that minimizes time to a best-effort result? How should we respond to queries that clearly don’t have a single best answers, such as queries of the form [category] or [category location]?
  • Mobile Search: should it be just like non-mobile search with a few tweaks to accommodate the device form factor? Or does / should mobile search fundamentally change the way we interact with information?
  • Real-Time Search: is it more than real-time indexing plus emphasizing recency as a query-independent relevance factor? What are the use cases, and how should we be addressing them?
  • Social / Collaborative Search: should we be looking to microblogging or other social media signals to augment (or even supplant!) link-based citations as authority cues? Should we be supporting mediated search by linking people to people, rather than directly to information?

To be clear, these are simply the questions that are on my mind–I’m speaking as an individual and not as a Google employee. That said, a great thing about being at Google is that there are people working on all of these areas. So I expect 2010 to be an exciting year!

Curious to hear what problems are on other people’s minds as we enter the new year. Comment away!

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