Better Search Means Helping People Get Things Done

The ZDNet article: Yahoo's new search master, offers a profile of and comments from Prabhakar Raghavan, a legend in the world of online info retrieval and the just hired person in charge of Yahoo Research Labs.

From the article:

Regarding search, Raghavan said, "We have two views of better search. Most people are not interested in search?they want to get things done. The future has to be more friendly to people getting tasks done. You don?t want to spend two weeks of evenings sitting at a keyboard and piecing together a vacation plan. You want a system to go out and find the answers, based on future technology that goes beyond crawling and indexing page. That future technology, according to Raghavan, is diving into the ?deep Web? and semi-structured queries. "I hesitate to use the buzzword of 'Semantic Web'?but it is about entity extraction, XML queries, unstructured queries, semantic ambiguity. We have to build a view of the world. When you issue a query, it has richer view than a text index. We?ll start to see manifestations of this in five years."

I've thought for several years that search engines will increasingly become personalized answer engines for certain types of information needs. If I read Dr. Raghavan's comments correctly, that's also where he sees it going.

See Also:
+ Hypersearching the Web
One of my all-time favorite papers about web searching by Raghavan and the other members of IBM's Clever Project.

+ The KnowItAll Project at the University of Washington
Autonomously extracting "facts" from web documents. A project you might want to know about.

+ A June 2004 Searchday Interview with Dr. Gary Flake
Flake is the former head of Yahoo Research Labs. Flake left Yahoo earlier this year and is now at Microsoft. Flakes shares some insights about the future of search.