Google Innovates Again: Quick or Is That Semi-KWIC?

August 5, 2022

Innovation at the Googleplex never stops. Never. I read the online story “Google Updates Search Result Snippets for Queries with Quotes.” The write up reports that after more than two decades of defining Googling as searching:

Now Google will now show the quoted text in the snippet where that exact phrase appears on the page.

The idea upon which the quantumly supreme Googlers hit is that some context, not much, but some is helpful. No one has ever had this scintillating insight before. Amazing. Think about it. A person’s search for a quote returns some semi-context. I learned:

Google said they made this change based on searcher feedback, Google wrote “We’ve heard feedback that people doing quoted searches value seeing where the quoted material occurs on a page, rather than an overall description of the page. Our improvement is designed to help address this.”

A few observations? Sure, why not?

  1. Google ignores bound phrases and user defined phrases in quotes. Don’t you love the strike out for the key words in a query that do NOT appear in the results list? I do. Will this helpful feature be decremented or ignored?
  2. Key words in context has been a function for a long time. I am not motivated to dig through my 50 year archive of “search” ideas to locate the very first KWIC option. I think some of the long-forgotten online search systems offered this feature? Maybe Dialog circa 1980? Somewhere around there. I recall Carlos Cuadra talking about the function at an Information Industry Association 45 years ago. Yo, SDC experts, any thoughts?
  3. Is this the magic learnings of a former Verity wizard transporting inspirations to the GOOG?
  4. Will the Google allow the user to specify the size of the KWIC window? Sure, when Google discovers the function. What’s next? Boolean logic?

Wow. KWIC.

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2022


One Response to “Google Innovates Again: Quick or Is That Semi-KWIC?”

  1. Martin White on August 9th, 2022 6:17 am

    The concept of KWIC was probably developed by H.P.Luhn and P.James at IBM in 1958. Luhn published a summary of the approach in IBM Tech Report RC-127 dated 31 August 1959 entitled ‘Keyword-in-Context Index for Technical Literature. But Herbert Ohlman was working on a similar approach at SDC at the same time. see for a paper that discusses their different but complementary concepts

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