The interview reminds me of the the article I wrote back in 2006 on the beginning of metasearch featuring MetaCrawler. Maybe sometime I'll get around to part II.
One quote from the interview struck me because it deals with the problem of extracting interesting research questions from engineering tasks. Erik writes,
Fundamentally, a Web service that simply sends a query to a number of search engines and brings back results isn’t all that interesting for a researcher. That’s an engineering problem, and not a difficult one. But there are a number of questions that ARE interesting — such as how do you optimally collate results? How do you scale the service?... Oren pushed me to answer those questions.The ability to abstract the interesting problems in a system and focus on those is a skill I'm still in the process of acquiring.
Erik solved the problem of combining a bunch of unreliable search engines to create one that was very useful, in the process he pioneered early research on meta-search. It's amazing how far web search engines have come; from unreliable early prototypes developed by grad students into today's multi-billion dollar industry.
I look forward to reading part II.