Is Traditional Search Passé?

By  |  Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Microsoft Bing chief Stefan Weitz made a pretty significant pronouncement in an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday: search as we know it is dead. That’s quite the statement.

In simplest terms, the old fashioned way of search results being nothing much more than a list of returned links just isn’t cutting it — a business model that’s made Google a ton of money.

Lets be fair, though: Bing isn’t that much better. In both cases the two search engines have focused their efforts on “the social,” hoping that is the answer. Google’s social search solution is +1, which gives greater weight to returned results that people in a user’s social circle may have liked. Microsoft is doing something similar, but in that case their using content culled from a friend’s Facebook stream.

Which method is better? It remains to be seen. The concept of social search — at least if done right — is still very much in its infancy. We really don’t know what works yet. While our Facebook streams of consciousness might be useful to figure out our likes and dislikes, will it be relevant to our friends in any searches they may perform?

In the end, what we’re really looking for is a search engine that can anticipate what we’re looking for — making those hours of trolling Google for that perfect result a thing of the past. The question appears to be now is whether social search is a step in that direction.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Harry McCracken Says:

    Bing is doing some interesting stuff–but I don't think it's a complete coincidence that the people who keep declaring search to be dead tend to work for search engines that aren't doing as well as Google…

  2. Ed Oswald Says:

    Amen on that.

  3. Clam Says:

    "The concept of social search — at least if done right — is still very much in its infancy. We really don’t know what works yet."

    That's what makes exploring new business ideas interesting; anyone who can be the first to figure out what works for any given business essentially will have a significant head start.

    I'm not saying that Microsoft is doing it right, but experimenting with new, unproven ideas is the only thing the company can do to gain significance in all areas beyond traditional operating systems and productivity suites.

  4. The_Heraclitus Says:

    What is the definition of "social search"?

  5. Devin Says:

    In the same vein though, do you necessarily want to see the same results as your friends? If my friends and I are researching something, it may be better to receive different results based on different criteria being entered.

    If someone starts their research first, it would almost feel like I'm wasting time re-reviewing the same sites as them. I would want to identify new information that would could discuss collectively.

  6. Max Says:

    Customised search is a horrible idea.

    Learning something you were not aware you didn’t know can be far more powerful than just finding the specific info you were aware you did not know.

    ‘Your friends liked this so you will to’ *shudder*.
    It’s often more enlightening to know what opponents/detractors think than your friends or those who have the same POV.

    ‘But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’ – Donald Rumsfeld.
    A good concept is a good concept, even when stated by an evil man in a context it was not applicable to.

  7. Eric Says:

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