Washington Post: Google and Beyond

This piece from the Washington Post is notable as much for the fact the editor thought it was worth dragging on for 5,000 words without cutting, as for its function as a reminder that smart people who don’t live and breathe technology have a very different perspective on emerging technology–ie, they are still wondering if intelligent agents are the next search tools after Google–while the Silicon Valley hordes are obsessing more over indexing blogs and FOAF. Nevertheless, some things worth checking out in this story by staff writer Joel Achenbach, including his thoughts about what could be next:
“The question is, who’s going to build the next mousetrap? What will it do? The laboratories of Internet companies are furiously trying to come up with the next generation of search engine. Whatever it is and whatever it’s called, it will likely make the current Google searches seem as antiquated as cranking car engines by hand. ”
(snip)
“As the Web has grown, it has developed a kind of embedded wisdom. Obviously the Web isn’t a conscious entity, but neither is it a completely random pile of stuff. The way one part links to another reflects the preferences of Web users — and Google tapped into that. Google, in detecting patterns on the Web, harvested meaning from all that madness.
This points the way to one of the next big leaps for search engines: finding meaning in the way a single person searches the Web. In other words, the search engines will study the user’s queries and Web habits and, over time, personalize all future searches. Right now, Google and the other search engines don’t really know their users. ”
And on and on for another 4 screens…