Bezos began his eTech talk by mentioning one of Danny Hillis’ phrases: global consciousness. Example: decaf coffee pots are all orange.
I guess that bad anecdote had its own reward: as Jeff went to show us a video the controlling system decided it was time to perform a windows update. Much hilarity ensued.
The talk was about Amazon’s search engine, A9, and how it supports what is labeled “vertical search”. This helps make searching more relevant, as today a search for Vioxx will generate lots of hits about lawsuits related to the product, but few links about the actual product itself. I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of this, where one topic overpowers other, often more relevant, results.
The way it works reminds me of google’s image specific searches, but A9 provides a number of choices, such as images, books, reference, and so on. In theory, this allows segregation of search results in a way that may yield results more in line with what the user was expecting.