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A9.com opens search to syndication

A9.com opens search to syndication

Amazon's search startup, A9, is embracing the concept of vertical search by broadly opening its search site to specialized search engines. During a presentation yesterday at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos introduced a new feature for A9.com that lets other search engines syndicate their search services to the site. Dubbing the concept OpenSearch, Bezos said that A9.com launched the feature so users can eventually select among thousands of vertical search options and manage them through the search columns that appear on the right-side of A9.com's interface. "We need to be able to consume search, [but] there's no way for the A9 team to build thousands of vertical searches," Bezos said. "Rather we have created a simple way of consuming and integrating them into the interface." A9.com developed an extension to RSS 2.0 to enable the search syndication, he said. So far, the feature, which appears as a link called "See More Columns," includes about 37 syndicated search options such as the National Library of Medicine's PubMed medical index, photo search on Ludicorp's Flickr service and article search from NYTimes.com. "We want this to do for search what RSS has done for content," Bezos said. When A9.com launched last year, it already provided a new twist on the idea of metasearch. It provided Web and image results from Google Inc., movie information from the Amazon.com-owned Internet Movie Database, reference information from GuruNet Corp. and book-text search from Amazon.com. Adding more specialized search engines into the A9.com mix is important because vertical search sites provide subject-matter expertise not found in general Web searches, Bezos said. "Not only are their data sets different but so are the algorithms they use and the relevancy-ranking algorithms they use," Bezos said. Bezos offered the example of a search about the controversial painkiller Vioxx. Results from a typical Web search would focus on the class-action lawsuits that have arisen from the drug, while a search on PubMed would provide medical information on the drug, he said. Bezos elicited laughter from the developer-centric conference crowd when he had to restart his computer after accidentally clicking "Yes" on a prompt to load a software update. But he later returned to the demo, where he showed how a developer could add about three lines of code to RSS in order to make a search engine available on A9.com. He said that developers from Koders Inc. took about two hours to syndicate the site's search for open-source code. Participation in A9.com's OpenSearch is open to any site or search engine, and the company expects the number of syndicated search options to expand rapidly, said Udi Manber, A9.com's CEO, in an interview following the presentation. UKFast is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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