How many times have we been frustrated by the fact that none of the million plus options thrown up by Google search in nano-seconds meets our requirement? We simply have to use another key word which throws up an even more bizarre result. Finally after a couple of minutes struggle without success we go looking for more conventional sources of search like the yellow pages, the encyclopedia or the app that Steve Jobs believed was more useful than the search.
Microsoft Bing’s search lead Qi Lu has upped the standards for search intelligence. In a recent interview with Hari Pulakkat, Lu explained that the web based search was going through a fundamental change. The emphasis was no longer on bringing forth to the user the maximum number of search results in the minimum possible time.
The need of the hour now was to understand the intent of the user and time and location based requirement and to provide a quick functional response to the user need. That is saying a lot for a web spider working its way through billions of pages based on computational algorithms, links and key words. This because there are trillions of URL’s that people read each day by using a short query of keywords and to understand the user purpose based on such short inputs is a tough task.
Lu countered this challenge using the 4W model that he says is a predictor of user needs. Apart from keywords Who? When? Where? and What? were the key metric used to understand user intent. This helped identify the user and who she was with, identify the time of her query, identify her location and identify and what she was using. Along with the keywords these 4 determinants helps guide the Bing search engine to near conclusive evidence on basis of probabilities of behavior in different locations, time and social situations. According to Lu the web is rapidly growing into a full blown digital society that will soon outgrow its heritage of stored documents and hence understanding the intent of the knowledge society will be a key factor for the future of search technology.
Perhaps this is the first step to socially relevant search which shows that people influence search technology as much as technology influences people.
I love to write on anything and everything under the sun from Project Management to Poetry, Economics to Travel and Technology. But most of all I love to write about our planet earth, about which you can read more in my blog Ecology to Economics. You may also meet me at http://www.twitter.com/ecothrust
Read other articles by Sandip Sen