Listen Up! Direct from a Former Verity Executive: Google Search Lags

July 13, 2022

If anyone knows about falling behind in search and retrieval, it is probably a former Verity executive. Verity provided a decent security token to limit content access and created one of the world’s most sluggish indexing updating methods I had ever encountered. When was this? The late 1990s. Verity ended up as a contributor to the estimable Autonomy “search” offering. Therefore, experience in moving users to content is a core competency of former Verity executives.

I spotted a Googler who was a former Verity executive. The individual identified how a search and retrieval system does not meet the needs of the here and now user. The information is contained in what I think somewhat askew discussion of the Google finding system. The information appears in “Google Exec Suggests Instagram and TikToc Are Eating into Google’s Core Products, Search and Maps.” The write up includes some interesting observations. These comments reveal Google’s apparently slow realization that it is making money as it loses the hearts and minds of a couple of important customer segments. It also colors the outlines of Google’s hesitancy to identify one of its most difficult search problems:

I noted these statements in the article:

he [the former Verity executive] somewhat offhandedly noted that younger users were now often turning to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes. “We keep learning, over and over again, that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to.” Raghavan said, adding, “the queries they ask are completely different.”

Experience matters. Verity went nowhere and ended up a footnote in Autonomy’s quest for customers, not technology and cutting edge functionality. Been there, seen that could be one of the triggers for this moment of candor.

Here’s another:

“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” he continued. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.” The figure sounds a bit shocking, we have to admit. Google confirmed to us his comments were based on internal research that involved a survey of U.S. users, ages 18 to 24. The data has not yet been made public, we’re told, but may later be added to Google’s competition site, alongside other stats — like how 55% of product searches now begin on Amazon, for example.

Flash back to the Verity era. New systems were becoming available. The wild and crazy Fast Search & Transfer folks were demonstrating a different almost “webby” approach to finding enterprise information. There was a sporty system from ISYS Search which provided a graphical interface, which — believe it or not — is still in the commercial market. There were quite fascinating folder oriented systems like Folio and Lextek. There were rumblings about semantics from Purple Yogi, later renamed Stratify, and also still available sort of from a records management company. Verity was lagging in the race to search domination.

So is Google. And a former Verity wizard identifies three companies which pose a bit of a challenge to a company which lacks focus, urgency, and hunger.

Add to this mea culpa the allegedly accurate statements reported in “Read the Memo Google’s CEO Sent Employees about a Hiring Slowdown.” The main idea in my opinion is that the mighty Googzilla is wandering in the wilderness with billions from online advertising. The problem is that developers are putting up trailer parks, slumurbia housing, and giant digital K-Marts. Googzilla is confused. Where’s the Moses to snap a leash on the beastie and pull the multi-ton monster to a valley filled with prey?

The trajectory for Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind and the solving death folks seems to be discernable. Peak Google, yep. Now gravity. (No, I won’t quote from the endlessly readable Gravity’s Rainbow. Sorry, I lied. How about this line from the page turner?

You think you’d rather hear about what you call life: the growing, organic Kartell. But it’s only another illusion. A very clever robot. The more dynamic it seems to you, the more deep and dead, in reality, it grows.

Verity, mostly dead. The Google? Well, gravity. No pot of gold at the end of this digital rainbow I surmise.

Stephen E Arnold, July 13, 2022


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