Google and Going Beyond Search

May 17, 2012

The idea for this blog began when I worked through selected Ramanathan Guha patent documents. I have analyzed these in my 2007 Google Version 2. If you are not familiar with them, you may want to take a moment, download these items, and read the “background” and “claims” sections of each. Here are several filings I found interesting:

  • US2007 003 8600
  • US2007 003 8601
  • US2007 003 8603
  • US2007 003 8614
  • US2007 003 8616

The utility of Dr. Guha’s invention is roughly similar to the type of question answering supported by WolframAlpha. However, there are a number of significant differences. I have explored these in the chapter in The Google Legacy “Google and the Programmable Search Engine.”

I read with interest the different explanations of Google’s most recent enhancement to its search results page. I am not too eager to highlight “Introducing the Knowledge Graph: Things, Not Strings” because it introduces terminology which is more poetic and metaphorical than descriptive. Nevertheless, you will want to take a look at how Google explains its “new” approach. Keep in mind that some of the functions appear in patent documents and technical papers which date from 2006 or earlier. The question this begs is, “Why the delay?” Is the roll out strategic in that it will have an impact on Facebook at a critical point in the company’s timeline or is it evidence that Google experiences “big company friction” when it attempts to move from demonstration to production implementation of a mash up variant.

In the various analyses by experts, “real” journalists, and folks who are fascinated with how Google search is evolving, I am concerned that  some experts describe the additional content as “junk” and others view the new approach as “firing back at Bing.”

You must reach your own conclusion. However, I want to capture my observations before they slip from my increasingly frail short term memory.

First, Google operates its own way and in a “Google bubble.” Because the engineers and managers are quite intelligent, clever actions and economy are highly prized. Therefore, the roll out of the new interface tackles several issues at one time. I think of the new interface and its timing as a Google multiple war head weapon. The interface takes a swipe at Facebook, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha. And it captures linkage, wordage, and puffage from the experts, pundits, and wizards. So far, all good for Google.

A MIRV deployment. A single delivery method releases a number of explosive payloads. One or more may hit a target.

Second, the action reveals that Google * had * fallen behind in relevancy, inclusion of new content types, and generating outputs which match the “I have no time or patience for research” user community. If someone types Lady Gaga, the new interface delivers Lady Gaga by golly. Even the most attention deprived Web or mobile user can find information about Lady Gage, click, explore, and surf within a Guha walled garden. The new approach, in my view, delivers more time on Google outputs and increases the number of opportunities to display ads. Google needs to pump those ads for many reasons, not the least of which is maintaining revenue growth in the harsh reality of rising costs.

Third, the approach allows Google to weave in or at least make a case to advertisers that it is getting on its social pony, collecting more fine grained user data, and offering a “better search experience.” The sale pitch side of the new interface is part of Google’s effort to win and retain advertisers. I have to remind myself that some advertisers are starting to realize that “old fashioned” advertising still works for some products and concepts; for example, space advertising in certain publications, direct mail, and causing mostly anonymous Web surfers to visit a Web site and spit out a request for more information or, better yet, buy something.

The new interfaces, however, are dense. I point out in the Information Today column which runs next month that the density is a throw back to the portal approaches of the mid 1990s. There are three columns, dozens of links, and many things with which to entice the clueless user.

In short, we are now in the midst of the portalization of search. When I look for information, I want a list of relevant documents. I want to access those documents, read them, and in some cases, summarize or extract factoids from them. I do not want answers generated by someone else, even if that someone is tapping in the formidable intelligence of Ramanathan Guha.

So Google has gone beyond search. The problem is that I don’t want to go there via the Google, Bing, or any other intermediary’s intellectual training wheels. I want to read, think, decide, and formulate my view. In short, I like the dirty, painful research process.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2012

Sponsored by Polyspot


2 Responses to “Google and Going Beyond Search”

  1. Frank on May 17th, 2012 12:23 pm

    Once I saw the announcement yesterday I was eagerly waiting on your comments. There is no doubt that you called this out years ago! -F

  2. Google and Going Beyond Search « Another Word For It on May 17th, 2012 7:12 pm

    […] Google and Going Beyond Search […]

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta