So far my concepts on decentralized search have been limited to the federated search paradigm. That is, search engines working fully through meta-search engines, thus allowing users to search with all of them under one interface.
I believe there’s another concept that holds promise for the decentralization of search: Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Search Engines. The idea is to have users combine their resources over a P2P network to form a distributed search engine. This gets around the cost of building and maintaining data-centers comparable to Google’s and Bing’s.
Because of this infrastructure they can easily provide search results free of advertising or censorship. And if they have a large enough userbase they could more effectively search the hidden web than traditional search engines.
Currently, P2P search engines such as YaCy, Faroo and Wowd face significant challenges to mainstream adoption: For starters, web browsers don’t yet have a framework for building P2P applications on. Which is why most of them have to be installed directly on the computer which for alot of people, might be confusing. Also, they need to somehow be better than the two incumbents Google and Bing, which are both easy to use and free.
Any application that can get past those obstacles will prove to be at least as game changing as Firefox was, maybe more so.