Google Scholar and Google Silos of Content

October 18, 2014

I read “Making the World’s Problem Solvers 10% More Efficient.” The article explains that the Google engineer who was “the key inventor” of Google Scholar is leaving the GOOG.

The write up discloses a couple of interesting factoids; for example:

  • Google Scholar has been around for 10 years
  • The founder of Google Scholar took charge of Google’s indexing in year 2000
  • The inventor of Google Scholar had to figure out how to keep Google’s index fresh; that is, new and changed content are reflected in search results.

The most interesting point in the write up is this statement (I have added the boldface):

Also, the nature of academic papers presented some opportunities for more powerful ranking, particularly making use of the citations typically included in academic papers. Those same scholarly citations had been the original inspiration for PageRank, the technique that had originally made Google search more powerful than its competitors. Scholar was able to use them to effectively rank articles on a given query, as well as to identify relationships between papers.

What happened to Eugene Garfield? I know, “Who?” So does this passage mean that today’s Google Web search discards functionality originally included in year 2000?

But the big point for me is that Google is supposed to deliver “universal search.” To make use of Google Scholar, one must navigate to and run separate queries. Is this universal? It seems to be old school siloing.

I like Google Scholar, but I think Google Web search may lack some of the refinements included in Google Scholar. Well, ads are important. Correction: Revenue is important. Perhaps Google will charge for access to Google scholar and compete directly with commercial database vendors? In my view, Google Scholar had a negative impact on commercial database vendors who charge libraries, corporations, and individual for access to curated and indexed professional and scholarly information. Google seems content to allow the Google Scholar service to drift along. Would more purpose be of value? Queries for patent 2012/0251502 A1’s “the isolated nucleic acid molecule includes the nucleotide sequence of SEQ ID NOs: 1 or 10, or a complement thereof. In another, the nucleic acid molecule includes a nucleotide sequence having at least 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500, 4000, 4500, 4600, 4700, 4800, or 4900 contiguous nucleotides of the nucleotide sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1” would permit Google to match Ebola ads to Google Scholar content?

Stephen E Arnold, October 18, 2014


One Response to “Google Scholar and Google Silos of Content”

  1. Steven Levy on October 19th, 2014 2:00 pm

    Thanks for the writeup. But a point of the story is that Anurag Acharya is staying on the Scholar team (and Google), not leaving the company.



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