Thanks to the comments of one my readers on the post about Sekamo.co.za, (which is being expanded right now from a Google Co-Op Engine, to include Social Network aspects, courtesy of Ning) , I was able to track down Shashi Seth, the product manager for Google Co-Op, who was willing to be interviewed for this blog, as follows:
Vinny: Google Co-Op allows inpiduals and companies to construct custom search engines using the Google infrastructure, including advertising & search algorithms. Why has Google made this multi billion dollar technology available to the average man on the street?
Vinny, that’s a great question! The fact is that this is in line with Google’s mission of organizing the world’s information and making it easily accessible to our users. We recognize that not all our users are looking for information on Google.com – they are all over the web, and we would like to make sure that they can get a great and familiar search experience everywhere. In order to attain this goal, it only makes sense for us to open up the Google search platform to provide the tools for our partners and users to make search more accessible to everyone. At the end of the day, what is good for our users and our partners is good for Google.
Vinny: Sekamo.co.za is an example of a local search engine, built using Google Co-Op – what are your thoughts on the direction that Google Co-Op will take? Do you think that it will favour subject matter topics ( i.e. a site about Motor Racing) or geographical search engines ( i.e. a South African Search Engine)?
Shashi: It has been amazing to watch the tens of thousands of Custom Search Engines that have popped up all over the web. They range from the very large companies who are utilizing this technology to serve their customers, to small non-profits who are serving their community, to inpiduals who have sites for smaller groups of users. We purposely tailored our product to allow anyone to create a search engine for whatever they are passionate about, and I am willing to bet that we will be constantly surprised by how our partners and users use this technology and push the envelope. So, the simple answer to your questions: all of the above.
Vinny: Do you have a Google Co-Op Blog? If not, when will you be releasing it?
Shashi: Oh yes, we launched the Custom Search Blog just a week ago. You can find it at http://googlecustomsearch.blogspot.com
Vinny: Can you share some of the anticipated releases on your product roadmap for the next few weeks or months? Anything that you’re particularly excited about releasing?
Shashi: We ypically do not discuss our roadmap in a public forum. What I can tell you is that we are actively listening to the feedback from our community, prioritizing it, and delivering on it. As you can see from the blog posts, we have been busy releasing a slew of functionality that our users have asked for, and will continue to do so. We really are looking at the tip of the iceberg – there is so much to do.
Vinny: Has there been any particular innovation around Google Co-Op by a 3rd party that has surprised you? If so, can you share the details?
Shashi: I am amazed to see the kind of search engines that have been created – everything ranging from local search engines, to vertical search engines, to site search. The list goes on and on. The most amazing thing for me is how quickly people have jumped on it and started creating an eco-system around it. There are two 3rd party directories out there now. We have been contacted by country governments, large companies, and all sorts of partners with very unique requirements. Our users are inherently innovative, and they find all kinds of ways to extend the platform.