Google To Launch Customizable Search Tonight

Josh Catone

A couple of months ago, Google vice president Marissa Mayer wrote about Google’s views on the future of web search. One of the things she talked about was the ability to personalize the search experience. “Search engines of the future will be better in part because they will understand more about you, the individual user,” she wrote.

One way they could do that, is by allowing users to rate, reorder, and comment on search results, teaching the search engine over time what types of sites you like. Google tonight will be opening up to the public an experimental feature they’ve been testing for a few months called SearchWiki, reports CNET.

SearchWiki lets users reorder and remove results, and leave comments on specific links. Google will remember changes that people make to search results pages, and subsequent searches will display results with the user’s customizations and notes. Users will also have the option of seeing how other searchers have rated and reordered search results and view other people’s notes, making search results a collaborative effort.

In some ways, the process is reminiscent of Wikia Search, the collaborative search engine launched by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, which allows searchers to edit, annotate, and comment on search results. We also reported on a project in October from Microsoft Research Japan called “U Rank,” that allowed users to rank and reorder search results in a collaborative environment.

According to CNET, Google seemed open using human input gathered via SearchWiki to improve their general search algorithm, though stopped short of saying that was something they were planning to do. “We don’t close any doors,” said Cedric Dupont, product manager for Google’s SearchWiki, who said they look at all sorts of signals regarding how to better tweak their search algorithm. “Search is adapting to the Internet as it becomes a more participatory medium. Now you have people telling us specific things about how they’d like to see their search results.”

The video below demonstrates SearchWiki in action.