Yahoo Debuts Personal 'My Web' Search

Approximately one week after Google got the jump on rival Yahoo by unexpectedly releasing a beta feature called "My Search History," Yahoo is attempting to reverse the momentum with an early preview of its My Web customized search page that, like Google, includes archival capabilities.

Effectively a re-branding of My Yahoo Search, Yahoo bills My Web as "your own personal Web," where users can save, search and share Web pages by invoking the Yahoo Toolbar or clicking a link directly within search results.

Users may archive thousands of Web pages and queries that, once saved, are accessible through My Web's "control panel" interface. The control panel scours a full-text search engine, retrieving snippets of information to "re-find" stored content.

Pages are saved individually unless a user invokes "My Search History," which will automatically save search terms. For privacy, users may remove content from My Search History. Yahoo provides the ability to save a permanent cached copy of any Web page -- instead of just a link -- for searching at any time in a personalized database of Web pages.

Yahoo can also import browser bookmarks with a feature called "kmarks". Folders of saved content may be annotated with notes that are also combined into searches.

Saved pages can be organized into categories that can then be shared with friends and coworkers via e-mail, Yahoo Messenger using Yahoo 360, or through a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed. Yahoo is also supporting the "attention.xml" specification to provide more flexibility and interoperability with other services in addition to opening up the My Web APIs.

Google's My Search History is available from within a user's Gmail account. The service works by indexing the full text of saved Web pages; these pages can be automatically omitted or deleted manually later on. Content from saved searches can be recalled through a calendar interface that orders searches day by day, or by querying the Search History database.

In comparison to Google, Yahoo caches pages on demand as a snapshot; Google saves search strategies and links. Caching takes place continuously as Google crawls the Web. At the present time, only Google Desktop can cache static pages.

News of Google's Search History invoked a firestorm among pundits and privacy advocates, but recording search histories is nothing new. The feature has been offered by Ask Jeeves as well as Furl and Spurl. Yahoo's own technology has been in development since October 2004.

Likewise, Amazon's A9 search engine has included a feature called "Your History" since it inception in September 2004. A9's "Your History" data is displayed in a dedicated column during Web searches and searchable on its own. The service additionally provides a server-side "Web Diary" feature for note taking and bookmarks, which is designed to save and organize online research.

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