Nicholas Carr has a run-down of an Economist article about Quaero, the European public/private search engine project:
The effort’s “stunningly ambitious” technological goals, writes the Economist, “show that Quaero is intended to be far more than just another would-be Google, but a leap forward in search-engine technology.” Quaero is, for instance, being designed to allow images and sounds to be used as search terms, in addition to traditional keywords […]
That sounds cool! And in the wake of a few too many underwhelming new offerings from Google, this rings true:
One thing Quaero has going for it is focus: While Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all have complex business interests extending well beyond search, Quaero does not. It has the kind of clean slate that Google had ten years ago when it came to life in a university.
Hey, shades of Regulating Search here: Maybe there’s something to be gained by thinking of search engines as utilities, with the same kind of public/private DNA.