Today Microsoft announced that it has agreed to acquire Medstory who provides search services for health information.  The first thing to note about this approach to search is that it has a very clear context (health information) which aids in much greater relevance to search results. 

I can see this being a trend going forward as the volume of information continues to grow and throwing a couple of random words to the worlds Internet becomes too challenging even for the best search engines.

There is a lot you can do to try and increase the probability of search results having relevance, but nothing beats having a context from which to build a conceptual information model that can infer related content.

Medstory looks to have come up with a great way to visually display related content based from an initial search.  In the example below I searched for the word 'stress' and this is how the related content is displayed which creates an easy way to navigate to more specific content without having prior domain knowledge.  When you select any of these suggested topics I'm provided with options to search just on the topic or to combine my original search with the selected topic.  It's just so simple to use.

medstory

I think this is so obvious now that I have seen it and I can't wait to see it being used in more areas.  I can only hope that this capability makes it into future versions of our desktop and server search technologies and is implemented for other industries.

James Akrigg