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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Directed Search

or, Some reasons why I like Bing better than Google

See, everyone knew for a very long time ( at least, it took only the first 7.5 million years to find out) , that the answer was 42. The trouble was in trying to figure out the question -- so much so, that even the white mice lost patience with the whole affair.

And this is the real problem. Everyone assumes that the goddamn questions are known and it is the answers that make no sense.

This is how the problem of search has been looked at for a long time. I do remember the good old days of AskJeeves and Altavista, which were designed to give answers to questions. Google isn't any different, you have to know what you're looking for, although I admit you can find it pretty gosh darned efficiently.

(After-thought: Google does have Google trends. But it's hidden somewhere in the dungeons of GoogleBeta, and even Google should know better than that by now...)

Which is why I like the way MSN and Bing work so well together. I'm a big fan of MSN (not the India one, though -- which sucks), and I like the way MSN hooks you and ties in what you're browsing for back into the search engine. Especially the A-List --- each A-List article is such a mine of potential searches for Bing that it makes for a rather interesting experience of serendipity for anyone who lands there. And, thus more $$, if you subscribe to the axiom that the stickiness of your website is proportional to its revenue.

The other thing I like is Bing Reference. The stunning photograph on the landing page almost invariably redirects you to Bing Reference, which, in fact, has no content of its own (all content is sourced from Wikipedia). I don't know how profitable this is, but I really like the interface.

Directed search is a niche well worth exploring, and further differentiation along these may be the way for smaller search engines to sneak into an already over-saturated market, by offering a higher fidelity search option.

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