In the works for nearly a year, Yahoo Search Pad is to formally launch tomorrow for all users. The feature is a nifty “notepad” service that allows users to collect information from search results into a single page for reference purposes.
I first saw a demo last November and immediately wanted SearchPad to be live. After having done numerous searches to research a television purchase, I had a piece of paper scrawled with notes, URLs and other references from pages I’d found through searching. Search Pad is designed to make such manual notetaking a thing of the past.
With Search Pad, you can collect listings from varous searches you do into a common page. You can also copy content from a page into Search Pad (up to 2,000 characters) and have Yahoo automatically find and attribute a link to where the information came from.
When launched, Search Pad will allow pages to be shared with others via a public URL, along with integration to share through Delicious, Twitter and Facebook.
Is this a game changer that will shift search habits? I doubt a major one, but it’s potentially a useful feature that may encourage more people to seek out Yahoo when they have an intensive research need.
I think it would have had even more oomph before Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz made recent comments suggesting that Yahoo’s somehow not competiting in the search game. Things like that make it hard to get behind any new Yahoo search feature, as they leave me uncertain if Yahoo Search is even going to be around in the long term.
For the record, when I put this concern today to Larry Cornett, Yahoo’s vice president of product management and design for search and Tom Chi, a product senior director at Yahoo, both pushed back.
“There was a desire [by Bartz] to highlight the things that Yahoo is doing outside of search. As you can see [with Search Pad], we’re not sitting around waiting for stuff to happen in search,” Chi said.
Cornett said similarly:
“We’re continuing to invest our time in search and come up with features we think are best in class,” he said.
Another concern is the growing trend for search engines to “mix” content from other sources in a way they’ve not traditionally done before. Few publishers (outside some newspapers) complain about being listed in search engines because only a link and a description doesn’t “give away” crucial information. But in the past few months, Google Squared, Wolfram Alpha and even Bing’s new “document preview” long descriptions all provide more material from pages directly within results — making it less likely that people will need to leave a search engine and visit the originating web site.
Yahoo said that there’s no way to prevent material from being listed in Search Pad at the moment and that it was sure that any copy-and-paste inclusion would meet fair use guidelines. Really? Even when you have some companies like the Associated Press suggesting that any copy-and-paste is a copyright infringement?
“We will see how this goes. We did in fact clear this with our lawyers and are ready to go to bat for the customers,” Cornett said.
The feature came out in a limited beta test earlier this year, but Yahoo said that’s been closed recently in anticipation of the full rollout. Currently, that should happen tomorow at 9pm Pacific time. Yahoo also had a news embargo on the release slated for that time, but after early reports came out, it dropped the embargo.
I’d planned to write a deeper “how it works” piece to go with that embargo. I still plan to do that, which I’ll post tomorrow or later this week. In the meantime, see our past piece for more details, including a video on how Search Pad works: Yahoo Starting To Roll Out “Search Pad” Feature.
See also discussion on Techmeme.