Kosmix (via) is an example of next generation Search Engine in its nascent stages. It is different from a standard Search Engine in the context that it is Categorized. To start with, they have three categories - Medicine (in Beta), Travel and Politics (both in Alpha). A common clueless web-surfer who uses a Search Engine for generic queries on a regular basis can readily appreciate the difference. Since the categories are limited, queries have to be, for the time-being, specific to these topics.
For instance, there is a huge difference between searching for a Medical condition in Kosmix and in a standard Search Engine. I entered "Avian Flu" as a search query. The results are presented in an extremely ordered and sorted out manner. For each search term entered, there are sub-categories viz., Basic Information, Definition, Treatments, Symptoms, etc. But Kosmix search goes a step higher by linking Blogs and Forums that provide information about a condition. However, the best part about Kosmix Medical search is the links it provides to authoritative websites that address the problem of specific patients such as children or women.
As with standard Search Engines, search can be personalized. The Travel category is neat, with links to Travelogues and user reviews. Kosmix definitely has a long way to go before it becomes a next generation Search Engine. But this is a welcome change from using quotes, special characters and advanced search filters (and not to mention a great deal of effort involved in thinking about the right set of keywords) to find the information required. It seems that Kosmix was launched by two Stanford graduates. What is it with Stanford Graduates and Search Engines? ;)