Technology -> Infrastructure
By: Roger Whitehead, Associate Analyst - Collaboration, Bloor Research
Published: 19th July 2005
Copyright Bloor Research © 2005
Yahoo! recently released a second beta version of My Web, a personal portal for the public Web. It offers users the ability to:
This screen grab shows some specimen results, on the subject of patents. I searched my own bookmarks for relevant pages and have saved these as a private list, for my own research. If I were working with colleagues, I could let them see what I have found. (On the public Web, such communities are sometimes referred to as one\'s trusted network.)
Search results in My Web are ranked not just on the conventional basis of the number of links, or of sponsorship. They also reflect the results other community members have made available. As time goes by, search should increasingly yield material that reflects the group\'s interests.
Each (live-linked) item shows:
I can send each result to other people using Yahoo!\'s email or instant messaging.
Like most of Yahoo!\'s offerings, this new service is aimed mainly at users on the public Web. It would take little adaptation to make it suitable for use on an intranet or extranet. My Web comes with an API, so adding bespoke features should be relatively easy.
Tagging offers a way to build taxonomies of topics that are in themselves searchable. For example, the results shown in the screen grab are only of those items to which I had applied the \'patents\' label. (On the public Web, collections of such categorizations have been dubbed folksonomies.)
Two well-known public services offering tagging are del.icio.us (a social bookmarks manager) and Flickr, for sharing photographs. In March this year, Yahoo! bought Flickr and its parent company, Ludicorp, reportedly for its tagging system as well as for its picture-sharing tools and customers.
My Web is not Yahoo!\'s only new search offering. The company also has a prototype product available for public use called Mindset, demonstrating what the company calls intent-driven search. Searches take place via the familiar Yahoo! interface but the results appear under a slider bar. One end of this is labelled shopping and the other is labelled researching. Moving the slider changes the ranking of the results to reflect the bias the user selects. The overall search results do not differ, just the order in which they appear.
Yet another new tool is Search Subscriptions. Again, the user enters the search term conventionally, but this time the results page shows which of them links to access-restricted content. The user can choose to include those results for which he or she has a subscription or other access rights or for which he or she is willing to pay a pay-per-view charge. Some commentators describe this sort of service as searching \'deep content\'.
A further tool in beta testing is Y!Q, which offers contextual search. In this, search results appear under a list of other suggested search terms. Clicking on one of these leads the user down different investigatory routes.
All these tools add to Yahoo!\'s existing stable of music, video, email, news and shopping search services, plus of course its original directory of the Web. The company will need to work hard in three directions with such a wide range of offerings. Its first task is making them work together, preferably through a simple interface or set of them. Second is explaining to the 370 million or so people who use Yahoo!\'s services around the world what all these tools do.
The company\'s third task is breaking into the enterprise market. It has a foothold through the trial version of its search tool for desktop computers, a badged version of X1\'s product.
Yahoo!\'s directors must be casting envious eyes, though, at Google\'s Search Appliance. This is a bundle of search software, hardware and maintenance that is threatening the incomes of many established suppliers of search software, especially in North America. It cannot be long before Yahoo! offers something similar.
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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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