Ask Tuesday is launching several new features on its site (release in extended entry), but none more interesting to me than its “MyJeeves” play. What is MyJeeves? Well, it ain’t MyYahoo. It’s more like MySearch. Call it A9 meets Furl meets Ask, if you will.
This space is getting hot and heavy, and from the stuff I’ve been briefed on that is coming from other players, it’s only getting more interesting (in other words, look for related news from other search engines in the coming days and weeks).
With MyJeeves, Ask is laying the foundation for a very serious play in what I’ve called the PersonalWeb, In fact, when I was briefed today by Jim Lanzone, the VP of Search at Ask, he used that very term over and over to describe what MyJeeves creates for its users. In short, MyJeeves allows you to save results, annotate them, and then manage them in your own personal folders. Those results (and the annotation) are then searchable (as they are with A9).
Unlike A9, you can start to use the advanced features of MyJeeves without signing up for the service, though you’ll probably want to. Once you do, you get unlimited storage of saved results, and…pay attention here…your search history. Yes, that’s right, Ask becomes the second major company (and the first major search player) to lay out search history as a critical new feature of its site.
Lanzone calls the PersonalWeb the “coup de grace” of MyJeeves. “It’s like creating your own web index,” he told me, adding that once MyJeeves is in place, Ask has visualized “where we go from here: we have a significant roadmap around MyJeeves and we view this as a first step of a long staircase.”
So, I asked, does MyJeeves save just the URL of a page, or does it archive a copy of the page, like Furl does? Well, for now, it just saves the URL, but Lanzone told me in the very near future, it will save a copy – meaning that one of my holy grails – the integration of search with perfect copies of what I’ve seen on the web – will soon come to pass.
But wait, there’s more. Ask also announced that its anticipated desktop product, (acquired when the company purchased Tukaroo) will launch in the fourth quarter, and that it will be incorporated into the MyJeeves interface environment. That means another one of my holy grails – integrating web search with my hard drive – is also on the march at Ask. Cool.
Ask has a lot of other news packed into today’s announcement. Besides MyJeeves, the company announced “version 3.0″ of Teoma, its indexing technology. Ask claims improved relevance, freshness, new internationalized support, and an expanded index (more than 2 billion English web pages, climbing to 2.5 billion later in the year). Version 3 will also include caching, which is required, of course, to support the Furl-like qualities of MyJeeves.
Ask also announced “new and improved” local search, with a major score by our buddy Rich Skrenta, whose Topix.net will power local news results for Ask Local. Ask also confirmed widely reported news that Citysearch listings are now integrated into the Local index.
And lastly, as you can see from the image above, Ask’s butler is back. He’s been put on a diet, hit the gym, gotten a tan and scored some better clothes. Svelte, baby.
So what does this all mean? Well, this is a big deal, certainly. It marks yet another major step in the progression of search from the C prompt days of yore toward a more robust platform for navigating our increasingly complicated information-drenched lives. I only hope that Ask, A9, Furl, and all the rest keep on keeping on, and are content with singles and doubles as we move forward. There won’t be any home runs for now – none of these features are big enough to warrant a Google Moment like we had in 2000-2001. However, they all point to an incredibly robust future – and by the way, a future in which personal publishing is very much integrated into search, and vice versa. Just a thought, but once a critical mass of folks are saving searches, search results, annotations, and the like, sure as shit they’ll want to share them, publish them, and cite them (and sure as shit, engines will want to crawl em for relevance mojo). Just watch as search, blogging, and RSS start to feed off one another. It makes my brain hurt to think of the possibilities. But in a good way, of course….
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