Technologizer posts about Search Engines

The Curse of “Don’t Be Evil”

By  |  Posted at 1:01 pm on Thursday, February 2, 2012

6 Comments

So it’s official: By merging its various privacy policies into one master policy that permits it to intermingle the things it knows about you, Google has become evil. Or at least that’s the stance of Gizmodo’s Mat Honan, who isn’t alonein his furor:

Honan’s declaration of evil is a riff on Google’s famous unofficial motto, “Don’t be evil,” which was apparently proposed by staffers Paul Buchheit and Amit Patel at a 2001 meeting. Google continues to saying that not being evil is one of its core principles to this day. So the fact that Honan and others are saying that the company has finally crossed an ethical line into evilhood is a unique, sad moment in Google history.

Except…

People have been accusing Google of being evil–or at least wondering whether it has become so–for almost as long as Google has been claiming that it isn’t evil. I can’t lay my hands on any examples from 2001 or 2002, but it became a hot topic in 2003 and has never let up.
Continue reading this story…



Read more: ,

The New York Times’ Steve Lohr has an interesting post on Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington researcher who’s published a paper calling for greater innovation in search. He calls for new approaches to search user interfaces–especially on phones, which are fundamentally different from PCs and used for different sorts of searches.

Etzioni speaks disparagingly of search results in the form of “ten blue links,” and says “they don’t cut it any more.” “Ten blue links” is a code-word for “Google-style search,” and people–especially people who work for Google rivals–are always disparaging it. Yet nobody’s come up with anything radically different that consumers seem to like a hundredth as much as they like Google’s ten blue link.

I vote for lots of experimentation with new kinds of search myself. (Siri, the iPhone app that Apple bought last year, uses voice recognition and semantic parsing of your input to do something that’s very little like Google, and very cool.) But for now, to riff on a famous Churchill quote, it’s possible that ten blue links are the worst interface for search–except for all the other ones.

 

Posted by Harry at 10:31 am

3 Comments

The Google Toolbar: Superfluous? Probably. Beloved? Definitely!

By  |  Posted at 2:28 pm on Friday, July 22, 2011

6 Comments

Stephen Shankland of Cnet is reporting that Google has ceased development of the Google Toolbar for Firefox. It works on versions of the browser up to 4, but won’t ever run with the new version 5 and beyond. Google’s official rationale? Firefox has added features which render the toolbar irrelevant. On a purely rational level, it may be right about that. But I suspect the absence of a Google Toolbar for the world’s second most-used browser will send a lot of people into a tizzy.

Three years ago, when Google’s Chrome browser was brand new, I wrote about the fact that there was no Google Toolbar for it. Then as now, you could have made the case that the toolbar was superflous, but that didn’t stop people from really, really wanting a Google Toolbar for Chrome. The post got a ton of readers, and I followed up with one on my not-very-serious project to build a Google Fakebar.

People like doing things the way they’re comfortable doing them. (That’s the only plausible explanation for why it’s still possible to pay for AOL service.) And Google Toolbar was so useful for so long that here are probably millions of people out there who use it every single day on Firefox.

Shankland says that Google isn’t saying anything about the future of the toolbar for Internet Explorer. I wonder if there are people so wedded to the toolbar that they’d switch from Firefox to IE to keep it?



Read more: , , , ,

Bing Goes Metro

By  |  Posted at 3:54 pm on Thursday, July 21, 2011

6 Comments

(image courtesy Within Windows)

Are you getting the impression that Microsoft is pretty proud of its tile-based, “keep-it-simple-stupid” Metro user interface, as seen in Windows Phone 7? You should. After moving both its MSDN developer site and the Microsoft Download Center to the much simpler layout, Microsoft is about to give its Bing search engine a makeover.

The tiles across the bottom of the Bing screen will show various blurbs of information including local weather, sports and traffic, as well as current trending searches. The idea follows what we’ve seen from Windows 8: that these tiles are meant to display blurbs of useful information in a visually appealing way. And it’s also well-suited for touch-screen devices.

Continue reading this story…



Read more: , ,

I’m Feeling Endangered

By  |  Posted at 6:28 pm on Saturday, June 18, 2011

4 Comments

According to Google Operating System, Google is testing a spruced-up home page and search results with one striking change: they remove the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button that’s been part of Google forever (or  at least since 1998).

Google has a gazillion tests going on at any one time, many of which never turn into permanent, pervasive changes, so it’s a tad early to mourn the loss of I’m Feeling Lucky. And I’m not sure when I last used it–or used it at all, except as an experiment rather than a feature I liked and needed. Still, I’d miss it. I think that’s because it’s a reminder that Google wasn’t always the Web’s dominant company–there was a time when it was an up-and-coming search engine invented by a couple of Stanford students.

 



Read more: ,

Here’s my newest TIME.com Technologizer column, on the new search features which Google unveiled this week.

Posted by Harry at 9:17 am

Comments Off

Google Doubles Down on “Ten Blue Links”

By  |  Posted at 5:58 pm on Tuesday, June 14, 2011

4 Comments

Google's Johanna Wright shows off the new Search by Image feature.

“I don’t need ten blue links — just give me the answer!”–Bing Search Blog post, October 2010

“Yahoo Vows Death to the ’10 Blue Links’”–IDG News article, May 2009

It’s funny: Google’s competitors spend a lot of time explaining that “ten blue links”–the traditional search results that we’ve known since the dawn of search engines–are annoying and/or obsolete. But I haven’t noticed any consumer uprising over them, or a mass exodus from search engines that use them. Actually, I suspect that any company that rails against “ten blue links” would cheerfully swap places with Google if it had the chance, dependent on blue links though Google may be.

And at Google’s Inside Search event today, thee was lots of news–but the company didn’t seem to be on a mission to deemphasize traditional results pages. Instead, most of the news was about making the blue links more useful–getting you to them more quickly, in more ways, then letting you get past them and onto a Web page that provides the information (Google would probably say “knowledge” rather than “information” which you’re looking for.

Continue reading this story…



Read more: , , ,

Live From Google’s Inside Search Event

By  |  Posted at 9:21 am on Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comments Off

I’m at Yerba Buena Center for Google’s Inside Search event–liveblogging is commencing now at technologizer.com/insidesearch.



Read more: , ,

Live Coverage of Google’s Inside Search Event

By  |  Posted at 5:03 pm on Monday, June 13, 2011

Comments Off

I’ll be at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens on Tuesday morning at 9:30am to liveblog Google’s “Inside Search” event. You can come hang out with me and get the news as it develops at technologizer.com/insidesearch, and I hope you do…



Read more: , ,

I’m at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, not the Wall Street Journal’s D9–but I’m monitoring the news from there, too. One of this morning’s D9 guests was Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who announced a new, improved search feature and (as expected) a photosharing service in partnership with Photobucket. The latter new feature is arriving “over the next several weeks.”

Posted by Harry at 11:12 am

Comments Off

Is Traditional Search Passé?

By  |  Posted at 11:18 pm on Thursday, May 19, 2011

7 Comments

Microsoft Bing chief Stefan Weitz made a pretty significant pronouncement in an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday: search as we know it is dead. That’s quite the statement.

In simplest terms, the old fashioned way of search results being nothing much more than a list of returned links just isn’t cutting it — a business model that’s made Google a ton of money.

Lets be fair, though: Bing isn’t that much better. In both cases the two search engines have focused their efforts on “the social,” hoping that is the answer. Google’s social search solution is +1, which gives greater weight to returned results that people in a user’s social circle may have liked. Microsoft is doing something similar, but in that case their using content culled from a friend’s Facebook stream.

Continue reading this story…



Read more: , ,

Bing Adds Facebook Social Features

By  |  Posted at 11:02 am on Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2 Comments

Microsoft’s search site Bing just got a whole lot more social with the addition of a bunch of new Facebooky features so you can “bring the Friend Effect to search” (Bing’s phrase, not mine).

What’s the Friend Effect? According to Bing, it’s the way that “90 per cent of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process.”

Continue reading this story…



Read more: , , ,

Bing + Yahoo = Search Success?

By  |  Posted at 10:48 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

4 Comments

While at first some of us (myself included) may have looked at Microsoft’s deal last August to power Yahoo searches with skepticism, the move may finally be paying off–and could be eating into Google’s dominance in search.

Hitwise found in March that the two sites combined now account for 30.01% of all searches in the US, up about a point and a half from the previous month. Google on the other hand dropped, moving from 66.69% to 64.42%, indicating that the people who weren’t using it were likely headed to Bing.

What’s behind this change? It could be that Microsoft’s algorithms are doing a better job at finding what searchers want. Experian Hitwise — who provided this data — found that on Yahoo and Bing, about 81 percent of all searches resulted in a visit to a website. Compare this to Google, which is significantly lower at 65 percent of all queries.

Could it really be that Bing just has a better handle on search? Sounds like Internet blasphemy (Google even accused Microsoft of stealing its search results) but that really could be the case. Microsoft has been hard at work behind the scenes making changes, and it’s clear it’s serious about becoming a player.

I’m still a Google guy, but hey technology changes fast, and that might not always be the case. Go ahead Bing, impress me…



Read more: , , , ,

Google Has an Answer to Facebook’s Like Button. Now All It Needs is an Answer to Facebook

By  |  Posted at 12:32 pm on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2 Comments

For months, rumor has had it that Google was working on some big social project called +1. Now it’s not a rumor: Google has officially announced it as an “experiment” which it’s rolling out slowly and explained how to try it out. And it turns out that +1 is very much like Facebook’s Like button–a one-click method of expressing your approval of something on the Web in a way that’s relayed both to your friends and to the Internet at large. It’s launching on Google search results–and the ads on Google search results–and will apparently pop up on other Google products and other sites in the months to come. Just like the Like button.

I just gave a +1 to a site I like:

In principle, I like the idea of +1–especially if it’s spamproof, and especially if Google starts to use +1 ratings to rejigger search results in a useful way, something which I assume it’ll do sooner or later.

Continue reading this story…



Read more: , ,

The Technologizer Googlecount for March 2011

By  |  Posted at 1:22 am on Friday, March 25, 2011

3 Comments

Time for an occasional new Technologizer feature. For no other reason except that it’s fun, let’s look at the world–and especially the tech world–as reflected in the results for various Google searches. With apologies, as always, to Harper’s Index, here’s the Technologizer Googlecount.

Continue reading this story…



Read more: ,