Real Time Search: Poor Layout or Lousy Content?

March 9, 2010

In my Information World Review column which I submitted last week, I talked about the “marshmallow wars” being waged among Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The idea is that these three “big boys” are not doing a particularly meaty job with real time content. I was fascinated to read “Why Do We Ignore Real Time Results from Google Search” in the media-savvy Guardian. I focused on the substance of the real time results, the latency, and the method of displaying these results. Each company rows its real time boat differently, and that makes life difficult for geese like me.

The Guardian’s approach, which was quite interesting to me, focused on eye tracking. You can read the write up and decide whether user experience or the content itself is the problem. I am very skeptical of the razzle dazzle about eye candy and how eyes move. My recollection from my grade school and high school days is that some people are not very adept readers. In my class which underwent a speed reading test in Illinois in the 1950s, few students were able to absorb blocks of text at one glance. Obviously, if there are some slow readers, there may be some difficulty with certain types of layouts. On the other hand, if you are like me and can swallow paragraphs or even pages at a glance, then the eye movement stuff may not be as significant as the value of the information.

My column for Information World Review focuses on substance. I leave the wandering eyeballs of those who read a word or two at a time and may sub vocalize when they grind through information to the arts and crafts approach to information. My opinion is that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are chasing real time content because it is has marketing value. There are useful data in real time results but not in the presentations of the big dogs of Web search. I identify some go-to services for real time search but you will have to wait until the IWR publishing cycle outputs the column.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2010

No one paid me to write this. I wonder if those reading the article glance, move their lips, or follow with their fingers. I suppose this type of non compensated writing and the attendant question means I must report to the FBI, an outfit skilled in dealing with impressions of fingers.


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