All right....I'll bite. Here are what I think the future of search
will look like, based on my own experience as a searcher, my
familiarity with the topic, and the frustrations I've had that
(hopefully) will be solved in the future.
--Non-text searching. Future searches will allow you to identify (or
upload) a sound file, an image, or a video, as your search parameter.
The results will identify the song/image/film for you, and will show
related items. Now, when you have a tune stuck in your head and you
can't remember the name, you can just whistle into your PC, save the
tune as a .wav file, and search for the song.
--Date and place. Search results are terrible at knowing how new or
how old a particular item is, and what time period it is focused on.
Sure...files have dates, and Google can tell if a web page has been
recently updated. But if you're looking for info on President George
Bush from 1990, it's hard to avoid all the stuff on Georgie Jr.
Search engines that can recognize the dates associated with a page
will be able to easily separate current from older information.
Similarly, searches are already getting more sophisticated about where
the searcher is located, and where results are most relevant to that
searcher. This sophistication will grow, so that, if you're running
for office, and want to know the location of every pizza shop in your
Congressional district so you can drop by and shake some hands...your
search engine of choice can provide the list.
--Control over what is searched. Already, there are dozens of
distinct sources of information that one can search. Just take Google
for an example. In addition to a plain old Google search, you can
also search Froogle for shopping, and then there's Google news, news
archives, books, scholarly documents, blogs, videos, government
reports, and so on. Future searches will give users even more content
to choose from, and will also allow us to consolidate sources into a
single search. That way, I can get text and books and products and
videos and whatever else I choose, all in one set of search results.
Or, if I just want shopping results, or only news, then that's what
--Translation. The ability of search engines to amass gazillions of
items of text in multiple languages gives them an unprecedented means
to learn to "recognize" common phrases, and provide meaningful
translations from one language to another, no matter how idiomatic.
This tool is getting better and better...stay tuned for some amazing
results in the next few years. Imagine conversing with someone who
speaks only Chinese, and having your English-only messages instantly
translated, and vice-versa!
--Personal libraries. Google, Yahoo and others already give away free
gigabytes of online storage to anyone who asks. More and more of our
personal content will be online -- text, pictures, spreadsheets,
databases -- and will be either privately or publicly searchable,
depending on our choice of privacy options.
--Pay and free. Searching will remain free. But increasingly, the
content of the search results is only a teaser -- a few snippets from,
say, a magazine article -- but one has to pay to view the full
results. As broadband speeds increase, and more and more content
becomes easily deliverable, the temptation to ask for payment grows
And there you have it...the future of internet searching.
One man's view of it, anyway.
Thanks for an interesting question. Let me know if there's anything
else I can do for you on this one.