Why search is (still) hard.
The write-up is a summary of a talk titled "Search is a Hard Problem" given by Udi Manber, a VP of Engineering at Google.
The article confirms that the devil is still in the details. Two little things from the article struck me:
- The query pre-processing being attempted even before the search is run:
"For example, Google understands that 'GM' stands for 'General Motors', while 'GM foods' is actually 'genetically modified.' If you search for 'B&B AB', Google knows that is 'bed and breakfast in Alberta', while 'Ramstein AB' is 'Ramstein Airbase'."
- The localization that is already part of the search engine.
Effective search results are really about getting at the intent of the user from what he/she has typed in and matching it to the attributes of the data that you've chosen to store. And given, that according to him, 20-25% of the queries they see each day they haven't seen before (and most of the world is still getting online) its going to be an ever-present challenge.