Why is search so focused on the past when what I really want to search is the present?
I occasionally check in on Google to see what it thinks of me. Or, rather, what it makes of the links that connect back to "Matt Asay." For months I've been wondering why it continues to show old data when I google my name.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it puts my Blogger (owned by Google) blog first, despite the fact that I rarely update it anymore now that I blog at CNET. In fact, it has Blogger and my Blogger profile among the top-ten results, despite the fact that these are hardly the most informative/useful links for me.
It then links (twice in the top ten) to my old InfoWorld blog. I posted a lot of stuff there over the two years I was with InfoWorld, but with nearly 1,000 posts on CNET since July, including links from Valleywag, Slashdot, CIO.com, O'Reilly, etc., you'd think that Google would hit "refresh" and update the results that "Matt Asay" yields.
This would be somewhat academic except that both Yahoo and MSN Live both return results that are much more in keeping with who I am, and what I'm currently up to. Is Google search mired in the past?
Yahoo still starts with my AC/OS blog (I've been there a long time and still update it, though not regularly), but it at least recognizes at #2 my CNET blog and also recognizes that my current employment, my Technorati profile, etc. Not perfect, but a much better representation of me than Google's results.
MSN Live is very similar to Yahoo's results, except that it recognizes that I'm with CNET now as its #1 and #2 results. (Interestingly, Live also had the most pertinent results for my company, Alfresco.
Having looked through the results for all three search engines for a range of different topics ("Matt Asay", "Alfresco", "Open Source Business Conference", "Tim O'Reilly", and others), it's clear that search has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. It doesn't return great results on people (though Spock does a decent job) and they don't understand the context about why I would be searching for this or that term, as opposed to you doing the same.
In other words, for search to be deeply accurate, there needs to be more human intelligence involved. I wonder if there's a way to combine collective intelligence (tagging or what-not) with search to make it more useful? Probably, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out. I'll be relying on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to do it for me. Please.