The New York Times’ Steve Lohr has an interesting post on Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington researcher who’s published a paper calling for greater innovation in search. He calls for new approaches to search user interfaces–especially on phones, which are fundamentally different from PCs and used for different sorts of searches.
Etzioni speaks disparagingly of search results in the form of “ten blue links,” and says “they don’t cut it any more.” “Ten blue links” is a code-word for “Google-style search,” and people–especially people who work for Google rivals–are always disparaging it. Yet nobody’s come up with anything radically different that consumers seem to like a hundredth as much as they like Google’s ten blue link.
I vote for lots of experimentation with new kinds of search myself. (Siri, the iPhone app that Apple bought last year, uses voice recognition and semantic parsing of your input to do something that’s very little like Google, and very cool.) But for now, to riff on a famous Churchill quote, it’s possible that ten blue links are the worst interface for search–except for all the other ones.