Article in NY Times today, Yahoo is wooing I.B.M. Technical Talent:
Yahoo plans to announce Thursday that it is recruiting scientists who pioneered an advanced search-engine technology at I.B.M.’s Silicon Valley research laboratory.
Prabhakar Raghavan, a computer scientist who once led the Clever effort, joined Yahoo last week as head of research. He left I.B.M. in 2000 to become a vice president and chief scientist at Verity Inc., a maker of search and retrieval software for corporations; he was later named chief technical officer.
Yahoo offers one of the best opportunities to explore new ideas in search, Mr. Raghavan said
One area that will be pursued is new search technologies related to digital media.
It’s been fun to watch Google being forced from the position of category killer to more-or-less evenly matched contestant over the last year or two. There’s a mind-boggling amount of innovation happening in search, which is levelling the playing field for new entrants, but even the stuff we’re seeing now is only the beginning. Search, and other modes of information retrieval, will become even more ubiquitous and integrated than they are now, and we’ll wonder how an OS like Windows without integrated search ever came to dominate a market. The desktop market itself may go away (yes, I’ve been reading Paul Graham’s book Hackers and Painters, which contains this great essay on server-based software from 2001, which is still relevant and engaging, as are his many other essays).
Search is poised to become the great collective memory, and new research being brought to market in real services, along with the availability of public APIs, will speed progress toward that reality. But it won’t be just the extent of information covered by search that will grow, but also interconnectivity of seach services and, most importantly, new modes of retrieving information (the only mode now in widespread use is keyword search, which is as old computer science itself — or much older, if you count manual versions such as file cabinets and card catalogs and other manually compiled indexes). I don’t see any reason why search shouldn’t aim to duplicate in software all of the modes in which humans retrieve information in their own brains (by context, by association and so on) or from others, by interactive question answering or guided discovery.