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Are Facebook “Likes” the Future of Search?

The fourth part of Big Think’s Farsight 2011 event discussed what future search experiences might be like.

People instinctively want to interact with technology in ways that feel natural to them, but this has never been possible until now, said Berkeley professor Marti Hearst. She forecasted that future search engines will allow for longer, more natural queries—people will be able to search in full sentences and questions rather than in keywords. She also forecasted that people will be able to speak directly into their phones and computers to search, but this will require someone to build a better noise-canceling microphone. 

Next, Mark Drummond, the CEO of real-time search engine Wowd, said that social and collaborative search will provide the basis for the next great search engine. Google unseated Altavista by measuring links to a websites as votes, but this system has been “completely gamed.” Where is the next scalable math-based solution, he asked. Could Facebook “likes” be that solution?

Search is a last ditch effort, said Sam Altman, the CEO of Loopt, a GPS-based social sharing network. “People hate searching,” he said. In a perfect world what you want to find will be on your mobile device without you having to search in the first place. But as apps become more and more important, we will need a search tool in order to search through the apps themselves! And Ty Ahmad-Taylor, CEO of popular sports app FanFeedr, suggested some possibile solutions for app search optimization.

At the end of the panel, moderator Kevin Kelly asked if the verb “search” is becoming obsolete. The panelists suggests that better words to describe the current action of search might be “find,” “solve,” or “differentiate.” And finally, the panel ended with the question “will search always be free?”

What do you think?


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