My "My Way" colleage, Tom Evslin, has an enthusiastic post about the possibilities of Custom Search Engines (CSEs). Google's CSEs let you specify which Web sites are a part of your search universe.
At first, I thought Tom was getting a little carried away with his enthusiasm, but upon further reflection, I think he's right on.
You see, CSEs are the perfect answer to the local search problem. By setting up a CSE for a specific community, and allowing community members to add sites to the list of searchable sites, you can quickly build an extremely robust local search engine.
I can easily see every city council in America setting up a CSE.
Or for the more entrepreneurial, how about a network of CSEs for different cities? Sure, there's not that much sustainable advantage, but there should be some degree of lock-in, and the call option value far exceeds the out-of-pocket cost ($0).