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The Internet with Syndicated Search 61

joeykiller writes "Search Engine Watch reports that Amazon now lets you add your own search to their A9 search engine. Users can opt-in to use additional search engines in addition to's own when searching. Amazon has chosen to use an extension of RSS 2.0 for this, and hopes that this format will enable search syndication in the same way RSS did for content. Several add-on searches are available already, among them New York Times, Wikipedia and NASA."
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  • Google ? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by mirko ( 198274 )
    I can't wait until Google does the same caus' I'd like to use this featrue to evaluate some of my client's sites popularity, day after day.
  • Have it your way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:13AM (#12075520) Homepage Journal
    This is great stuff on two levels.

    I've been using Firefox's configurable search feature for a while (you can add plug-ins for things like IMDB and, and then select the engine you want before searching.) While it's a great idea in theory, it also is a little more clumsy than you'd normally want. I've ended up doing too many searches for "Linux USB XYZ-123 driver" in or Wikipedia or whatever, because it doesn't reset itself after each search. After a while, you stop using it - it's just not quite what it needs to be.

    A9 will improve itself with this kind of feature. But, more importantly (like I said, two levels, by adopting this RSS-extension, it will encourage others to do likewise, which means other developers can put together tools for this kind of quick-search without having to learn a hundred different search engine APIs. This means there'll be enough tinkering with UIs for it to be virtually certain someone will come up with something usable.

    At the moment, searching on the Internet's a little like a bunch of 1960s style fast food outle[tt]s. You get your basic cheese burger virtually every where, but it's literally just a bun, a beef burger, and a slice of cheese. A few places are adding pickles (like Google, you might call news the pickle, or groups the tomato ketchup), but we're a long way away from, say, the engines offering delicious Whoppers. If we want to have search engines that give us the full lettuce, mayo, ketchup, onion, tomato, etc, we need to standardize on protocols in much the same way as outfits like MacDonalds and Burger King were able to create efficient food transportation systems for raw ingredients beyond simple buns and beef. This is Amazon giving us the lettuce of Wikipedia and mayo of the NYT to us, asking us if we want the fries of NASA, and it's a step towards them offering "have it your way." Awesome.

    • Re:Have it your way (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PepeGSay ( 847429 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:17AM (#12075546)
      I've been using A9 as my primary search since it launched and I have to say this new feature is very cool. When a search doesn't find hits like I like, I can go to WikiPedia and even blog searches to find out if someone else has mentioned the topic. When you are looking for clusters of keywords on a topic you are only beginning to research it is very powerful.
    • Re:Have it your way (Score:5, Informative)

      by ambrosine10 ( 747895 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:26AM (#12075630)
      Why would you do that when you can set up your own keywords in Firefox (no plugins) so that you can just type "imdb moviename" or "wiki topic" or "g search" and get your searches right from the address bar?
    • Opera has had that feature for years and they went a step farther. They bind a letter to a search engine so in the url bar you type "g item" to search google for item and "d word" to look up a word in I keep hoping for a firefox extension that does that.
      • It's already possible. Try going to and rightclicking in the main input box (where you would type your search query) and you should see a "Add a keyword for this search..." menu item.

        If you click this the bookmarks dialog will appear. Add a name (Google) and a keyword (g) and you will be able to search google by typing:

        g "Linux TCO"

        In your URL bar

        • I did not know that. Until you pointed it out, I'd never even seen the menu option. I knew about the tricks where you can take the trouble to work out a search URL and stick a %s in it and stuff, like the poster who posted after you pointed out, but that felt worse than using the drop-down list of search engines.

          That is awesome. Thank you!

      • Re:Have it your way (Score:4, Informative)

        by ozric99 ( 162412 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:46AM (#12075758) Journal
        Firefox has been able to do that kind of thing ever since I started using it.

        Add a bookmark and use the following fields:

        Location: =UTF-8&oe=UTF -8&q=%s


        Now, whenever you want to search google just type "g searchterm".

        You can do the same with IMDB, Amazon, Wikipedia, anything that allows you to use http get to search.
      • Not only has this been available in Firefox for years, it's been in Internet Explorer since at least 4.0 days. Unfortunately there isn't any UI for it in the browser itself, but it all comes down to a simple registry key. h tml []

        (There used to be a much better page for this that let you specify your own shortcut keys, and it would generate the .reg files dynamically, but I can't find it anymore.)

    • it doesn't reset itself after each search.

      I considered that a feature. It's not that hard to look at the icon and see what engine you're using at the time. I find myself liking that it doesn't reset, as I'll find myself doing a paper and needing Wikipedia a lot, or NIV a lot, or ... well, you get the idea. I think it would be hasslesome to do one search on and have it magically revert back to, but I guess that's why those crazy software designers have come up with wonderful things
    • Personally, I make extensive use of Konqueror's keywords, the defaults it comes with are excellent. Whenever I sit down at a 'doze machine, I always get upset when ggi:stuff doesn't search google images for stuff, the same for imdb:stuff with IMDB and dict:stuff with, and so on and so forth.
    • If Google was to add MAYONNAISE, I'd be truly satisfied.
  • Interesting Move (Score:4, Interesting)

    by filmmaker ( 850359 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:17AM (#12075550) Homepage
    This is an interesting move by Amazon, and it's certainly an improvement over delivering static HTML pages from a database, an increasingly worthless exercise.

    However, why do they need to extend RSS? I fail to see what the extensions are for, when all they really need is a XSL transformed RSS document or perhaps an XSL transformed XHTML document with an accompanying or alternative URL to fetch RSS directly.

    Anyway, I like this because hopefully the next move is for the big three to start offering straight XML results; this in addition to or in leiu of the data APIs Google and Yahoo already make available to web authors.

    Thing is, if they just published search results in RSS, then non programmers could jump in the game and start utilizing the data for different applications. It would open up the field considerably, but unfortunately, it would mean a lot more abuse too from search spammers would would seek to capitalize on the data.
    • Extending RSS... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:27AM (#12075639) Homepage Journal
      They aren't just making up new rules to existing protocol and expecting the world to change along with them.

      Read: []

      OpenSearch RSS 1.0 is an extension to the RSS 2.0 standard, conforming to the guidelines for RSS extensibility as outlined by the RSS 2.0 specification. The intent is to provide a standard format for returning results for a search query. This extension is designed to be backward compatible with existing RSS readers.

      Version 1.0 of OpenSearch RSS adds only three new elements, each within the openSearch XML namespace. Additionally, OpenSearch 1.0 makes recommendations on how existing RSS 2.0 elements can be best used within a search context.

      Future versions of OpenSearch RSS will attempt to maintain backwards compatibility with OpenSearch RSS 1.0. More complicated search extensions to RSS 2.0, such as language selection, encoding type, spelling suggestions, multi-media results, sponsored links, etc, will be done in such a way as to keep OpenSearch RSS easy to implement and interpret.
      Besides, they are only extending the RSS 2.0 namespace... something done quite often. tml []
  • by mcgroarty ( 633843 ) <brian.mcgroarty@ ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:25AM (#12075625) Homepage
    IceRocket [] offers an RSS link on every search page so you can add the term to your aggregator or your My Yahoo! page. It also has the ability to search blogs explicitly and as it knows what is and isn't a blog, seems to do a better job of keeping blogs from rising to the top of every search as Google too often does.

    I use IceRocket for most of my non-technical searches these days, and use Google for technical searches. Nothing beats Google when you know a few rare keywords guaranteed to be on the page you want, but I find its utility has been on the wane for general interest pages.

    • Why do you prefer IceRocket to Google? It seems to me as if IceRocket's search results comes from Google; ranking of results and even grouping of similar results are identical.

      Using thumbnails of the page is a great visual touch, though.
      • The thing I like most about IceRocket is that it works and looks very much like Google. It's an unapologetic clone, but it's not in the crosshairs of all the search engine "optimization" brats. As a result, I get far fewer link farms and blogs with IceRocket.

        Also, I turn those page previews off. They're cute, but I don't get any value from them. They just clutter things up. I hit the engines searching for specific content, not a nice layout!

  • The example in their spec [] contains invalid XML:
    <copyright>&copy;2003-2005,, Inc. or its affiliates.</copyright>
  • by InsomniaCity ( 599389 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:35AM (#12075696)
    I have looked at A9 OpenSearch in the past, and what I can't see is any way to retrieve the OpenSearch description documents that people have submitted.

    At the moment, it looks like A9 are keeping these to themselves. So you can make your search engine compatible with A9, but you can't use other people's engines without their OpenSearch document.

    I think A9 should release these documents!
  • by osewa77 ( 603622 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [smsajian]> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @10:41AM (#12075734) Homepage
    Well, I can see how this can be commercially exploited: Imagine best-deal/coupon/bargain search engines syndicated with A( OpenSearch and people willingly subscribing to these searches because they love good deals? The only difference will be that now they won't have to leave their primary seaarch engine. A9 has something here with the potential to drive a lot of business! And I guess they can collect a lot of information and simply use it to sell more products on, being the largest/broadest online store and all that. Cool.
  • If web services (broad sense : google, amazon, ebay, blogger, wikipedia...; not the WS-* sense) standardize their input/output they are commoditazing what they make a living of.
    Their added values are going to drop and new entrants will offer new services built upon the commoditized ones.
    The problem is that nobody expects the new services and everybody will recognize them when they appear. It's a hard turn to take for the current rulers.
    Is Amazon starting to shoot itself (and its peers) in the foot?
  • Really, thats the only Ireason go there once a week to keep the small amazon discount that they give your account. Its not much but if its enough to push the price of something below a local store then I'll order it from amazon to avoid tax.
  • Here's why I think returning search results in a machine-readable (parseable) format won't work: advertising. What is Google's primary source of income? Not their search appliances; the advertising you see on the right hand side. If Google started returning an XML file with the search results, the first thing the aggregator will do is replace the ads with their own. And if Google includes the ads as a part of the search results, then the "become evil" by not setting them apart. Either way, Google loses. Th
  • To paraphrase David Spade:
    I liked OpenSearch better the first time, when it was called...OpenSearch []!
  • What i'd like to see is search engines utilising my websites own search facility on it's own.

    Google, for example, never indexes everything, but could easily extend it's "More results from " hyperlinks to access my website's own engine, for example /search.xml, like it already checks for the existance of indexing guidelines in robots.txt.

    This would mean search engines index lots of very complete indexes instead of trying to index the entire web from the HTML and only managing to create a partial index.
  • One idea I like the idea of is using this to search library catalogues []

    Jon Udell [] has also has written about OpenSearch [].


  • LOL! hahaha I think France (one way or another) has managed to piss of Yahoo!, ebay, amazon and google now!

    Well done AFP! (oh c'mon that was on topic right?)
  • I have dabbled in these sorts of extensions and "web services" a few times now. I was impressed by Yahoo's search API, and depressed by eBay's.

    A9's is the easiest yet. You don't have to register for any special account or get permission. You just go to the submission page, give them the URL of your site description, and they validate it (as well as your sample search), giving you a preview.

    The XML itself is a few simple extra tags to your RSS 2.0-compliant feed. If you already have a site search engine

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal