I’m a Berkeley guy, so this was interesting. Cnet has the scoop:
U.C. Berkeley, birthplace of early search highflier Inktomi and the school where Google CEO Eric Schmidt got his computer science doctoral degree, is bringing together roughly 20 faculty members from various departments to cross-pollinate work on search technology, said Robert Wilensky, the center’s director. The principal areas of focus: privacy, fraud, multimedia search and personalization….
…”If you have 20 researchers interested in search, then getting them together where they are cross-fertilizing ideas, you make something bigger than its parts. You can create a nuclear reaction,” said (Robert Wilensky, the center’s director).
According to the story UCB is in talks with Google and others about joining the center in some way. I find it really hard to believe that any company would pay more than lip service to this at present, innovations in search are simply too important to a company to share. That’s just how it is. These kind of ideas are always well intended, but 20 researchers? Between them, Google and Yahoo have thousands of folks focused on this problem worldwide….that’s not to mention Microsoft and scores of others.
However, there is certainly a need for a focused, interdisciplinary approach, and many universities have significant academic work already brewing in this idea. It remains to be seen if the big search companies will support it in any other way than they always have – by buying the companies and hiring the people who come out of it….