Google‘s new SearchWiki services have debuted, causing a bit of a stir. As John Battelle points out, these new features have the potential to reportalize the Web, making Google a destination to linger over rather than a quick jumping off point.
I doubt this will happen because there’s a problem with the underlying approach. Let’s begin at the beginning. Google’s SearchWiki not a wiki, at least not for the user. Any customization is yours and yours alone (hence the reportalization strategy Battelle mentions). If it is a wiki, then Google is the one learning. Even comments are limited to notes to self.
But all this is built on a model that requires users to do stuff — click on icons, interact with a page, vote up or down. The joy of Google has always been that it’s right without intervention. That’s the magic of its user-friendliness.
In the past, Google has indicated that 20% of its searches are new to Google each month. Yet, research has indicated that 40% of searches are repeats — a statistic I find somewhat implausible. Even if it’s true, I don’t search on a term enough to have any single term support a portal approach.
Since SearchWiki only works on searches you repeat, the odds seem slight that it will actually prove a reliable, customized portal option for people.
So, I guess if you have billions of dollars and thousands of engineers, some experiments are going to seep through, even if they’re not all that compelling. And that seems to be the case with SearchWiki — it’s not a wiki, it’s not very powerful for users (it actually demands work from users), and it’s unlikely to have its intended effect.
Or am I missing something?