Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Google Instant


Well it seems that there is quite a stirring going on out in the search world with the latest announcement from Google that it will be rolling out an update to all its users pretty soon, Google Instant. Before I give a bunch of links to videos and lots of text explaining how Google Instant works I’ll explain it in a nutshell (so I gave the link already, sue me). Instead of showing you suggestions as you type, it’ll actually show you predicted results as you type. That means that if you hit ‘W’ it’ll start showing you pages about Weather, Wimbledon, Waterloo, Warcraft (or at least I assume that it’ll show all that stuff). In essence, no more hitting enter.

What fascinates me however is how the tech world seems to be scrambling around making such an enormous deal about this feature and discussing “what it means to the world” or “does it mean anything to the world” or “is Google instant all that necessary”. In fact it amuses me to see how people seem to be testing Google instant and as a result they just miss out on the point completely.

You see, Google or any search engine is not really used for single name searches like “Will Smith” or “YouTube”. Or to make that a little more accurate, search engines aren’t made or broken based on the results of such trivial searches. This sort of thing is what does the deal,

“How do I use Windows 7 to take a screen shot of only part of my screen”

“Shortest path from Earth to Pandora”

“How do I enlist myself in the Avatar program”

There. That’s a real search. Piers Morgan… That is not a search to decide how Instant works. So why is all of this useful?

Scenario that I constantly see at university. People seated in front of a computer desperately trying to figure something out like how to draw a pie chart on excel or how to count matching values in a list in Haskell. And they do one search using a particular wording, do another search and another and another… Each time they refine their search a bit more based on what they typed previously. And this! Is exactly what I believe Google Instant is trying to solve. While you are typing you can see that your search is going nowhere.

On a side note I also believe that creating the “appearance” of a dynamic page may be a subtle strategy to keep people with Google. The online world today demands constant information as quick as possible and with Google just giving the look that it is dynamic by just taking away the use of the enter key might actually appeal to the masses. Even though it’s definitely going to surprise people along the way.

Personal note, I can’t wait for Google Instant to come to me because this will really help the way I perform my search engine ninja tricks.


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