Autonomous search in the future

09/07/2010 08:29 a.m. | Internet

My boss Ed sent a quote to our office from Eric Scmidt at a recent conference. The full quote is below.

"Ultimately, search is not just the web but literally all of your information - your email, the things you care about, with your permission - this is personal search, for you and only for you.

"The next step of search is doing this automatically. When I walk down the street, I want my smartphone to be doing searches constantly - 'did you know?', 'did you know?', 'did you know?', 'did you know?'.

This notion of autonomous search - to tell me things I didn't know but am probably interested in, is the next great stage - in my view - of search."

This is awesome for local advertisers, and somewhat scary for consumers. I like his basic notion earlier in the article of "Since you are in location X right now, and have interest Y, Google thinks you'd like to know information Z."

However, if Google is wrong on the thinks youd like part too often, they may lose big. That recommendation part is very tricky and very valuable. Its one of the first parts of the Netflix signup process, and I think it gets people hooked right away because they feel like Netflix really knows them. If you get the feeling like a service doesnt get you at all, then you probably will want to break up with it.

This gets tough because of the Napoleon Dynamite problem. Polarizing, quirky content is difficult to predict based on our own past history. But, I think it gets easier based on our friends data in conjunction with our own. This makes Facebook search (and possible recommendations) a big contender in this space.

I think that Facebook has more of that data about our lives (or is gaining it at a much faster rate) than Google. For most people, Facebook knows them better than Google.If recommendation engines are the future of search, and if those engines need as much outlying data about us as possible, then Facebook is poised to be a leader in the space.

I wonder how long until Facebook starts acquiring other companies totally based on their stores of user data. Netflix, delicious, reddit, and digg come to mind. Currently is seems that Facebook is just trying to store all of this info themselves, but I think it may be more profitable to just buy it outright. However, Facebook already has enough issues with owning data that they may need time to earn some trust first.

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