When it comes to search engines, there's no doubt that Google rules the roost, after all no other web search facility is able to beat Google at finding web pages relevant to your keywords.
But Google isn't very personal - it doesn't know the social networks you're a part of, and it doesn't necessarily remember the particular subjects you're interested in.
A new breed of web 2.0 services and applications were launched at the DEMO 09 conference - an annual meeting promoting cutting-edge technologies - aims to bring that kind of personal knowledge to new search tools in the hope that such knowledge will help you find the exact information you're most interested in.
We've rounded up the 10 most exciting and innovative ideas. Some of the tools, like Ensembli and Primal Fusion, are web services. Others, like Kutano and Evri, plug into your browser. Still others, like Sobees, are desktop applications.
Xmarks: The wisdom of bookmarks
One of the best ways to build a successful web business is to give people a service they already need, then build on that base. That's the approach of Xmarks, which is created by the same people who make the Foxmarks bookmark synchronisation add-on.
Foxmarks is actively being used on three million computers around the world, giving the service information on 600 million bookmarked pages. How useful is that information? My quick take is that it could be very useful.
You can interact with Xmarks in two ways. If you go to the Xmarks site, you can enter a site name, and Xmarks will let you know what other people think of it. A rating scale tells you how often it's bookmarked, Xmarks users can review the site, and Xmarks will tell you about related sites.
You can also install the Xmarks browser add-on (if you already have Foxmarks installed, the update will be pushed out to you soon). When you search at Google, Yahoo or Microsoft's Live Search, Xmarks will look at the results and offer additional information about the three links per page that have the highest score - a combination of how many people have bookmarked the site, plus its 'bookmark velocity' - how quickly people are adding the site to their bookmarks. That information looks as if it could be pretty handy in finding the most useful sites in your list of search results.
The add-on also puts a small icon in the address box of your browser. Click the icon, and you see information for that page - its bookmark popularity and related sites.