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Kate Greene

A View from Kate Greene

Yahoo Adds a Notepad to Search

A new tool could help people organize information from Web searches.

  • February 4, 2009

When most people do research on the Web, they usually start with a search engine and end with a collection of different types of information: bookmarks, excerpts in Word documents, and saved pictures in folders. Today Yahoo is rolling out a service that it hopes can consolidate peoples’ research in an easy, intuitive way.

Search Pad
Credit: Yahoo

Called Search Pad, the service works behind the scenes, collecting links for a certain search restults and list of pages you’ve already visited. For instance, if you’re trying to find a good triathlon training program and have clicked on a few of Yahoo’s search results, a notification will appear on the results page asking if you’d like to use Search Pad. If you click yes, then the service overlays a list of the triathlon training pages you’ve visited on the results page. To this list you can paste text from other sites, such as a review of a book on Amazon.com, and Search Pad will automatically attribute the source with a hyperlink. You can delete unwanted items, and drag and drop items to order them the way you want them. You can also save lists for later and email them to friends.

The video demonstrates the new tool.

The idea of organizing Web research isn’t new, of course. There are a number of startups and product out there that offer similar services, including Evernote, Circus Ponies, and Twine. (See “The Semantic Web Goes Mainstream” and “Untangling Web Information.”) Google has a similar product called Google Notebook, although the company recently announced it will stop developing it.

Yahoo is hoping to gain traction with the simplicity of Search Pad. Tom Chi, senior director of product management at Yahoo says that in tests, Yahoo researchers found that people didn’t have to change their search habits dramatically to make use of the service. This is key, he says, because if people have to think about searching in a different way, they simply won’t use service.

Search Pad is available to randomly selected users today, and depending on the initial user response within a month or so Chi says expects the service to be widely available to all Yahoo Search users. It’s unclear however, how popular the service will be, even if it is well designed and useful. Yahoo only controls about 21 percent of the search market, while Google dominates with 61.5 percent, according to number from comScore and Nielson last year.

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