I look at things like Overstimulated’s great “book burro” greasemonkey script and I increasingly find myself thinking, “Death to shopping search sites (and wrong-headed vertical search too)!” Book burro is a wonderful example of how people are are completely missing the fundamental changes in search.
First, while I have admittedly hyped vertical search and it is potentially useful, people keep missing that unlike Google-style search it must be context-driven. People are not going to bookmark and use twenty different domain-specific search engines, no matter how well done. People will fold, spindle, and mutilate Google into doing the job — unless you give them search in context. A la Blinkx, for example, a good vertical search tool will recognize a task requiring information while you are working, and then it will provide that information in passing — call it drive-by search.
And that is where book burro is instructive. Rather than forcing people to go to a shopping search site to find multiple sources for a product, it implicitly embeds that in Amazon by bringing back competitive prices via XML-HTTP. Put differently, it recognizes that people are looking for a book, not shopping for prices, and they have a default shopping site. In that context it gives you enough information to decide whether you would like to change your purchase location on a per-transaction basis.
Imagine most vertical search sites reconstituted in the same way, feeding you information as required by the context in which you are currently operating. Say you start scanning a CV it might do a background Zoominfo search and ask you whether you would like due diligence information on the candidate; do a product search and you get a book burro-style price list. The mind begins to boggle when you rethink vertical search as immersive client-centric context, rather than simply being yet another bookmark in an already cluttered world of search.