Some time ago I made a post about Topic Mapping, in short creating a visual map with search results and grouping similar hits together. This is especially interesting as a tool for all the visual learners out there. Along those lines is another interesting search tool Clusty. (The logo looks a bit like Corner Gas but that is a plus in my book.) This is a metasearch engine powered by Vivisimo, which clusters search results into topics. I have run a search for the Sir James Dunn Law Library (I’m not above self-promotion), if you go to the search results and look at the left sidebar you will see that the results of this search have been grouped into several categories: Dalhousie, Law School, Nova Scotia, Legal, Resources, Books & Collections, Studies, Canada Law Libraries and a few more. (As a side bar the search for Slaw brings back interesting results).
This type of searching raises some interesting possibilities. The results get more to the point of what a searcher is looking for, rather than a long list of results. I can see a real benefit for novice searchers, although as a more advanced searcher I get somewhat concerned about an engine taking away my ability to discern that which I am interested in and that which I am not. That notwithstanding, I am very interested to see where this type of searching goes. Actually, Google or Microsoft is probably in the process of buying it right now.