The Future of Internet Search

Even as the online world has turned its attention from searching to social networking, Internet search is beginning to get interesting again. When people search, they aren't just looking for information; they mostly want to find something in order to do something - an imperative that first Bing, and now Google, have begun working hard to satisfy.

NEW YORK – Imagine that Googling an address gave you a list of the closest buildings, ranked by distance. Not exactly what you were looking for, most likely. But that is pretty close to what we still accept for most Internet searches. You don't get what you actually want to finish your task; you get a list of pages that might lead you to it.

That is beginning to change. Even as the online world has turned its attention from searching to social networking, search is getting interesting again.

Consider the development of online search in the broadest terms. First came Yahoo!, with its carefully cultivated (by human editors) catalogue of interesting web pages. Then along came Google, with co-founder Larry Page’s innovative ranking of Web pages not just by their content, but also by the quantity and quality of other pages that link to them.

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