tedster - 2:44 am on Sep 8, 2011 (gmt 0)
And there's another reason directories dropped in prominence
I'd say the biggest reason directories fell off was that the model cannot scale with the growth of the web. Even in the nineties, directory-based Yahoo had to send a lot of queries to AltaVista (where the algo of the day might turn up a couple relevant results in the top ten, if you were lucky.)
And the current search challenge is still scale. That's what makes truly competitive entry into the search market so problematic.
And this is also why social networks are such a threat to Google and why Google needs to be there in addition to search. They represent a new way to find information on the web, something a lot more comfortable and familiar for people than geeky old search results.
I hope Brett is right - and I wait for the change with a degree of expectation, in fact. Google holds maybe 8 to 10 times more data in their active index than Bing does, from what I see. And that difference in scale seems to be another part of what Google tends to choke on.