This is an interesting phenomenon that is not widely known and mostly ignored. But the matter of the fact is that if you have two computers, side-by-side, open up your browser and search for the exact same thing, you won’t get the same list of results. The same happens on social networks: try looking for a non-person and compare the results and their order. Search gurus will tell you this is the magic of “personalized results” and finding things “most interesting to you” … but what they don’t tell you is that this comes at the price of having the possibility of doing a global and unbiased search.
Any search you do is biased, by the region you are accessing the internet from (continent, country, city), your internet history, your search history, your language preferences, time of day … basically anything quantifiably different will alter your search results. You can’t (even if you try) do a unfiltered, repeatable and global search on the internet. And anything you click in those already tailored results will only reinforce your perceived “interest.” Eli Pariser also talks about this in his “Beware online filter bubbles” Ted Talk where he quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt:
It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them. — Eric Schmidt, Google
Douglas Merrill from Google talks about what it takes to build a search engine for the web.
Besides that what strikes me as interesting is their choice of languages “focusing” (he didn’t exactly say that, but it’s what you understand, when he says they won a prize for it) their efforts in machine translation on: Arabic and Chinese … o.O