Personalized searches

Kaltix, a Web search venture formed by three members of Stanford University’s PageRank team, is bent on out-Googling Google by developing a speedier version of the Stanford PageRank algorithm and using it to develop a more personalized Web search service. “Kaltix is a ‘stealth-mode’ startup… (leveraging) research done at Stanford University as well as several new technologies developed at Kaltix to provide large-scale personalized and context-sensitive search,” says a company representative. A number of companies outside of the search engine sector, such as Amazon and TiVo, have attempted to integrate personalization features into their business, but most have fallen short of expectations. If search developers are successful, they could help millions of people better navigate the Web, while unlocking new revenue from online advertisers eager to maximize their return on marketing dollars. “Personalization is one of the holy grails for search,” says Chris Sherman, editor of Search Day. “Everybody’s working on personalization to some degree or another. When it comes out of the labs and what flavor it takes are the big questions.” Sherman adds that the key to success will be getting the user interface right—giving users notice of what data has been collected, where it’s stored and how it can be changed or removed. “A lot of it is going to be experimental. Personalization can turn people off if it’s interfering and annoys them,” says University of Pittsburgh professor Amanda Spink.

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