Remember the good old days when search was about mastering Boolean expressions so you could find what you want? You could say you wanted “((bing OR kumo)) AND search) NOT crosby NOT bada” and get exactly the result you were looking for. Yeah those were the days. Then we decided the Internet was too large for full text search and that some of the Internet was spam, so we needed authority and page rank, and search so easy your Grandma could do it.
I’d be happier in the old days, and Good news so would Wolfram. The search engine that brings me what I asked for but no one will used because the only thing it will tell you about Britney Spears is her date of birth.
Bing is supposedly a Decision Engine. Think of it as a wizard for search. “I’d like to plan a trip” it walks you through the steps to a result that you likely already could have arrived at. While in theory Grandma might like that she goes to bing.com and it helps her pick a place to go, “Tahiti would be very nice this time of year and I’ve never been,” but she was going to visit her Grandson in San Jose, CA so picking a place was not an issue. She knows that he has a week off at the end of June so she knows when she needs to leave, despite the price being cheaper in February, and she is staying with him so there is no need to pick a hotel even if the Saint Claire looks lovely and is only 4 blocks away.
And Bing.com doesn’t make this Easier than Expedia, who was not surprisingly the number 2 search result for “Fly to San Jose” in TwitNit.com
I rarely think to my self, “Darn it it is inconvenient to leave my search results to go to a place designed to solve my particular problem”. It doesn’t happen. The whole Hyper Linked Text thing makes that pretty seamless. Unless you are on Microsoft powered search, then the poor results will make you pray that you could leave this particular search engine for some where designed to help you search.
I think to make up for Microsoft’s lack of users they intend to make up for it in page views and affiliate links. Booking the travel from with in Microsoft will likely make them a commission on the sale. And if you wander through a wizard you could see 8 pages of ads rather than one and leave.
WolframAlpha.com has some interesting potential. It is great if you need encyclopedic type results from trusted sources. As some one who has edited WikiPedia to win bets, I don’t trust Wiki, so WolfRam is the sort of thinking mans answer to Wikipedia. But As it lacks any Pop Culture references it is rather academic (pun intended).
Enter TwitNit.com. This is Google Powered search so you get the kinds of results you expect, but you get them from all the Google Properties, plus Twitter all at once. This means when you search for something you don’t have to know in advance the best place for the answer. If you are searching for the Earth Quake that just happened Twitter results will keep you filled in every 10 seconds, if you are searching for the actor who played in a movie, you get the Imdb result that confirms the name, and likely a picture of them that reaffirms it is who you are thinking of, and quite likely a YouTube Video of the actor, and some commentary about them via Twitter.
If you ask where should I eat dinner, you get Google Local results that provide a set of places near you with reviews, but you can also see twitter user’s thoughts on the matter. But at no point are you “trapped” on the pages.
I strongly believe Wolfram will be a fixture in college kids arsenal for a long while to come. I don’t see Bing Making it. TwitNit is likely a gimmick, but it leverages the power of others so the overhead is low, so it won’t disappear just may never go mainstream.