New State of Search #IL2013

Greg Notess, long-time writer on web search.


Moving into semantic, structured web, rather than straight keyword searching. They have years of data about the information of the web and how people search.

Predictive search: here’s what you want to know.


Results page: web, news. Right column of facts: “knowledge graph.” This is the semantic, structured web, which Sir Tim Berners-Lee was calling for in 2001. Software would be able to read it.

The web didn’t have metadata (i.e., cataloging) that librarians want. For example, consistent ways to specify author and date of a web page., which is supported by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex, is working on this. Info is embedded in web pages with HTML attributes (e.g., itemscope, itemtype, itemprop).

Google + author profiles. Again, added to page markup.

Knowledge Graph (Bing and Facebook doing similar things): addresses, reviews, carousel of pictures on top. About real world people, places, and things. More likely to come up with simple or popular topics. Much info from Wikipedia, Freebase, Google search data, etc.

Sometimes results are outdated: death dates, marital status. Sometimes based on bad data from Wikipedia.

Results based on user’s location and previous searches.

Bing Snapshot: similar to Google Knowledge Graph. Carousel, social networking links.

Google’s hardware hopes:

Google Glass. Not many people here want to try them. However, some reviewers started out skeptical, but then loved them. Uses input from what you look at and what you say, rather than what you type.

Rumored smart watches.

Chromebook tablet. (Other: Windows tablet, iPad Air)

Discovery and Libraries:

Discovery systems use one big database (as opposed to federated searching) for faster results.

Lots of different content, blended results, faceted options.

Results and opinions differ. Vendors and early adopters are very enthusiastic, but that’s how it was with federated search, too.

Next generation ILSes may have discovery built in.

We’d like to be more Google-like, but Google has 46,000 employees and $57 billion in revenue.

Lots of library systems now have facets on the left. Google had that, too, but then got rid of them. (Options now in a small row at the top.) Does this mean library systems will go that way, too? OTOH, shopping sites (even Google Shopping) have facets.

Google often uses keywords in search to display different types of content (for example, “Monterey pictures”). If you search more scholarly terms, Google knows to list scholarly articles. Will library systems be able to do this sort of thing?

Device diversity:

Desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones, glasses, smart watches.

Desktop search: cached version available, but not in mobile Google app.

iPad: Knowledge Graph shows at the top.

Wikipedia’s mobile app: minimized for phone display. External data links are hidden until you open them. View history doesn’t show up in mobile version. Also “cite this page.”

Google Goggles: searches based on a picture, such as landmarks or barcodes. Only on mobile.

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