With the release of the supposedly whippet-fast Firefox 3.5 just two days away, I’m wondering why browsers don’t do a short ‘search profile interview’ when they install. Rather like online dating ‘interviews’, I suppose, but with Google as the object of your affection rather than a Gordon/Gloria.

Then, on certain types of searches (i.e.: the vague ones) your browser would ping Google your carefully-considered ‘search profile’, and presto! — better search-results.

For example, an art historian doing a vague search for samuel palmer shoreham would never have to see results from dodgy poster websites, because the browser profile would say “my user is interested in art history and books and articles containing references”, and Google might also say “samuel palmer was a notable artist whose work is out-of-copyright”, and thus the modifiers -posters -framing -delivery would automatically be added to such a search, and pages with proper academic references would get a boost in the results.

Whereas the person whose browser profile said “frequently spends on home furnishings, subscribes to Homes & Gardens” will get the poster and prints websites pushed to the top, and the 50,000-word thesis on Christian visionary symbolism pushed to the bottom.

Yes, you could have removed those results manually (*) if you’re logged into Google, but you can only do that after the search. And most ‘vague’ searches will happen on searches that don’t tend to repeat themselves often.

( * I had about four poster-sales site in the first two pages of that search, yet I’m logged into Google and have been searching for academic stuff for months — Google seems to have learned little about what I want)

Privacy issues? Well, yes. But what if the browser could seamlessly re-configure a users’s vague search terms, based on their personal profile and known interests, before the query is sent to the engine? Think “search suggestions” on steroids, and without any annoyingly dumb flickery drop-down boxes that don’t have a clue about my interests.