Dan Farber and Gary Price have some interesting things to say about a recent panel on "New Directions in Search" at the PC Forum ... which brought to mind the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want". According to these reports, panelists agreed that the main goal is to get users the information they want, but differed in the approaches they are taking, or planning to take, in trying to infer what it is that users want. Examples include the use of search and browsing histories of the searcher, information from users somehow linked to the searcher, and additional sources of content (e.g., video, GPS data).
There are times when I am searching for a very specific answer to a very specific question, and so I believe that some of these improvements can be useful. However, there are many times when I'm not exactly sure what I am looking for, and I discover interesting new things rather serendipitously. My concern is that if search is narrowed to include things that I've encountered or that my friends have encountered, we'll be sacrificing diversity for homogenization, and such opportunities for serendipitous discoveries may be significantly diminished. While this may make for greater efficiency, I believe it may also reduce the richness of the online experience, through which I often find things I did not know, much less specify, that I needed.
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need