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Yahoo Search Pad: Making Online Research Easier

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 04, 2009


When you’re researching something online, whether it’s a place you want to vacation or (like me) a subject you want to write about, it’s still not easy to collect all the sites you’ve visited and save only the information from them that matters to you. A lot of the solutions are pretty klugey—saving snippets in Word or Notepad, printing out reams of paper, sending yourself emails. Others have gotten wise to the wonders of Yahoo’s delicious bookmarking service and information capture programs such as Evernote and DEVONthink. But they all require some kind of interruption from Web browsing.

Now, Yahoo has come up with a new way to track and annotate your online research with little fuss. This morning, it’s starting to test a new search feature called Search Pad. Available on any Yahoo Search page, it is a service that divines from your pattern of clicks, queries, and time spent on sites you click to whether you’re just looking for quick info like a restaurant phone number or you’re doing some deep research on a topic. If it’s the latter, then you’re offered what looks like a window on the page to save your searches, paste snippets from Web pages, and write your own notes (as shown in the screenshot above). You can then save them to your Yahoo ID, print them, or email them. The Search Pad is available in a link at the upper right of search pages.

I haven’t been able to try it yet, so I only know what I was shown in a demo (you can get a sneak peek here in a screencast.) But if it works as billed, it looks like it will be a nice, lightweight way to compile research. Say what you will about Yahoo’s inability to catch Google in search share, it’s still plugging away with improvements that at some point may sway more searchers its way.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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