Dave Winer published
a provocative idea this morning: "Perhaps Google and the other major SEs
should have some kind of plug-in architecture that lets us build our own
search engine out of components we like."
I am hopeful that among Google, MSN and Yahoo there is at least one
player motivated to listen to Dave on this and built an ecosystem instead
farm. I subscribe to WSJ.com and it would be incredibly useful to plug that 30
day archive into my search results and to assign it a high pagerank. It would
be a win for me, Dow Jones (which owns WSJ.com) and Search Engine X.
My employer subscribes to Lexis Nexis and Factiva. It would be great to
those in as well.
And I'd be among the first to sign up for a good weblog search plugin,
Dave has a long history of pushing social networks over monolithic
corporate systems. He pushed Apple to better welcome developers,
Microsoft to embrace the Internet, and individual Web users to build a
distributed media network through weblogging, just to name a few examples.
Treating search engines as a platform is a similar thought of similar --
that is, great -- importance.
If none of the corporate-owned incumbent search engines steps forward
on this, I can see an open-source/peer-to-peer infrastructure stepping in
to build a pluggable search system. And I predict the newspaper companies,
if they are smart, will step forward as the benefactors of this effort,
much as IBM has done with Linux. They are threatened by Google/Yahoo
hegemony (and their direct
competition on news gathering), have widely distributed and in many
information repositories that would benefit hugely from a pluggable
interface and are cash rich/growth poor.
Finally, I have to say I think search has become social software and we
just have not noticed it yet. PageRank is social software in a crude form.
The next generation of search will be more sophisticated and will rely on
the same sort of systems that drive sites like Slashdot (this means Clay Shirky
will get at least one fat job offer from Google if he has not already).