Google put on a full court media push tonight for a major change the company is making to its search experience. According to the Official Google Blog and a very unusual email the company sent out to press, a new feature called Google Search Wiki will launch soon.

We're not seeing it yet, but read on for an explanation of what the feature will do and a reaction to the announcement from Ward Cunningham, the man who invented the wiki.

The feature will allow logged-in users to change the order of search results and mark up search results pages with notes. Only their own results will be changed - unless they click a link to view all Search Wiki notes on a search's page. Very few details are out yet, nothing regarding vandalism, libel, history, messiness, collaboration or other wiki matters. Those are pretty important concerns given that this could become the biggest and most important wiki in the world.

This isn't Google Labs, this isn't a little project off to the side, apparently there's a Google Search Wiki team and they have access to the primary search results page. We expect this to be a very big deal.

Reaction from the Inventor of the Wiki

We asked Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki, what he thought about Google Search Wiki. This was his first reaction.

I think it looks pretty sharp. It's simple and powerful - it will respond well to scale. I'm surprised that they called it a wiki. When I heard they wouldn't call a wiki a wiki [Jotspot was renamed Google Sites -ed.], then I decided I wouldn't call my searches Googles. Now that they are calling a wiki a wiki, I guess I'll call my searches Googles again....or should I call them wikis?

I can't tell if they have a wiki there or not, it might just be a forum. Collectively editing thoughts is what leads to the unique wiki behavior and I didn't see that demonstrated in the video.

They are going to get a lot of data. They obviously have the ability to wield information, let's just hope that we will all benefit. I don't think it's obvious that we all will benefit - but I guess I have enough trust in the behavior of a large number of people.

Photo of Cunningham by Joi Ito