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Put On Yer Search Hat

By - September 29, 2004

suesshatDon Park has some search ideas, and he wants to put em in the public domain before he goes up to MSFT for some advisory board meetings on search. His first, the Search Hat, is neat, and groups into the personalization category. I’m not sure it’s a feature for the masses, but the ability to “go modal” while searching – “I’m searching as a reporter, not as a shopper,” for example – would be very cool for advanced users. (We could use “Tivo Hats” and “Amazon Hats” while we’re at it….)

For example, if I search for ‘Eclipse’ while wearing the ‘Software Developer’ hat, I should get Eclipse IDE related links before links related to the astrophysical phenenomon.  If even I was interested in the later, results I get back should be different depending on whether I am wearing a Physicist’s hat or a Photographer’s hat.

Information on which links are relevant to which hats can be culled by keeping track of which hats searchers are wearing when they do the searches.  Same information can be used to recommend hats a searcher might be interested in wearing.  Hats can also be shared amonger searchers explicitly.

Like Dr. Seuss’s magic hats, there are hats within hats so seachers can browse for the right hat that suits them by diving into hats or grabbing one of the hats returned as part of each search result.  Over time, a user’s hat collection will be refined and adjusted to meet the user’s search needs.

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  • Lance Housley

    One of the things that worries me about personalisation of search – apparently such a Holy Grail according to many commentators – is how do you cope when you really do want something outside your normal spectrum of interests. For years, perhaps, one might have been searching for cars, but it is just possible that one day one really does want big cats when one types jaguar.
    As an information professional, I regularly search for totally disparate topics – one minute it could be looking for a really basic introduction to what happens to water when you heat it, and the next I could be looking for post-graduate-level material on molecular science. What I want is usually tailored to the needs of the customer I’m dealing with at the time, and I really don’t need a friendly search engine to try to condition one search on the basis of a previous one.
    But it would be really handy to be able to extablish a range of personas – hats, if you like, or filters – which might specify “basic versus advanced” or “third-world coverage” rather than “western perspective”, or even “chemistry rather than biochemistry”.
    Search hats, eh? They could be very handy, but I would need a very large number.