One of my favorite bloggers, Tom Evslin, wrote Google CSE – Why It May be the NBT. Go read the article first, because I refer to it a lot here. I agree with what Tom says about CSE (Custom Search Engine) being a big deal because Google is doing it. Rollyo, a product that I was an early beta tester in, came before, but as with the misnomer of first-mover advantage, it doesn’t matter if you’re first, it matters who has more users.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play with CSE, I can say that it is a nice tool, but I think that we will see more improvements.
Here’s something I think that Tom didn’t get to though. Google has always said that they want to organize the world’s information. CSE smells a lot like the dmoz.org project that started years ago, except that Google found a way to get people to *want* to create a human-edited search engine. _(What a novel idea huh? I guess those MBAs are still teaching us techies a few things)._ If you think that CSE is just a dumb tool to put sites into, you’re way off base. Google is giving you a great service by letting you limit search querying to some specific sites, but what you are giving them is much more valuable. You are telling them what sites to group with what categories. I would have to bet that Google is paying attention to what you put in your little search network and getting even more context out of that to help their main search engine too. So when you create a network about VCs or Entrepreneurs, Google looks at that and probably gives them a little more Google Juice for certain things.
The goal of a search engine is to bring back the most relevant data to you that you are searching on. What made Google a better search engine is that it went beyond simple keyword searching with their PageRank algorithm and other secret sauce. You are getting more valuable information because they made a bet that things that are linked to the most _by humans_ are the most relevant _to humans_. And since a human is going to be able to tell you much better than a computer (at least for now) what content is best for a particular subject, they are leveraging that “vote of confidence” from someone who links to something. Well, CSE is just an extension of that idea. You are building mini networks for them and they will leverage that knowledge too.
I’ll keep watching this one. It will be interesting to see what happens.