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The Internet

Search Beyond Google 248

An anonymous reader writes: "'Search Beyond Google', the cover story of the March issue of Technology Review, is one of the few current Google stories that discusses whether their technology can stay ahead of the competition in the months to come."
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Search Beyond Google

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  • by Ernest P Worrell ( 751050 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:04PM (#8363839)

    ... or bad things ... or pretty much anything, come to an end sometime. Except Microsoft of course.

    I think Google has deviated too much from searching, with their Blogger aquisition, and other stuff like that. We'll see how long they stay around.

    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#8363891)
      It seems like Google is starting to admit that they've hit a wall at improving their search technology, so they're starting to expand into other portal areas to anchor themselves down the same way Yahoo did when their directory-search model hit the wall.

      But Yahoo seems to be investing in several of the surviving web crawlers from the early days. Clearly, they see Google's hold on the title as the #1 search engine as something they might be able to take back.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:42PM (#8364369)
      Perhaps they're trying to be the central information aggregator? Many of their initiatives, webpage search, news search, usenet search, store searches... have to do with sifting through more information than humans can possibly handle. The Blogger acquisition and the friendster thing could be seen as peripheral endeavours that may yield a profit, but also might yield information on how to sift for relevance. e.g. handle blog relevance by studying interpersonal relationships of sites like friendster. After all, their web search is based on relationships between webpages of a sort. In that vein, Google Answers could be interpreted as an experiment to leverage the power of people in finding relevant results.

      Or I could be reading too much into what is otherwise standard corporate behaviour. :)
  • by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:05PM (#8363845) Homepage
    They key for google providing relevancy is certainly eliminating "search engine spam". Almost everything that comes up on the first page for most things I search for is a referral program selling either something I'm looking for information about, or selling something completely different.
    • by Mr. Stinky ( 753712 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:12PM (#8363969) Homepage
      Agreed. Until last week, I observed Google being bombarded by spammers of the 3rd level domain name. I belive that last week they tweaked their algorithm similary to the November 2003 tweak by throwing out results that contained the exact keywords in the 3rd level domain name. I run a legitimate business: snowboards-for-sale.com [snowboards-for-sale.com], and these jack-ass-holes have been funneling Googlers into their Amazon affiliate site by setting up shell websites like: http://flux-bindings.foo.com/ If you compare the result set between Google and Yahoo for the same query, I'm finding that Yahoo has slightly better technology for weeding out the spam; at least right now.
      • I thought the whole concept of google was that it ranked pages higher if lots of other pages linked to it. So presumably if lots of snowboard related sites link to your site, your site should be prominint in googles ranking system. Or have the spammer gotten around this too? Maybe all these spam sites link to each other and fool google that way!
        • by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:41PM (#8364349)

          I thought the whole concept of google was that it ranked pages higher if lots of other pages linked to it.

          And this is exactly one of the problems that is now coming to light. Spammers set up hundreds of tiny sites that do nothing but point to each other, thus inflating their PageRanks. They've saturated Google to the point that searching for information about commercial products usually returns 2/10 legitimate pages.

          At least, that's been my experience.

    • "Almost everything that comes up on the first page for most things I search for is a referral program selling either something I'm looking for information about, or selling something completely different."

      So, wait. All those products won't really make me bigger down there. Way to ruin my day.
    • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:15PM (#8363998)
      The funny thing is that Google does this on its own sometimes, and not because people are manipulating it. I recently noticed that I've been getting a lot of hits from Google searches for "S635MP". I recently posted a deal for a S635MP motherboard w/ CPU for $5. (the deal is dead now, sadly, although there's one for $10)

      Google saw that link, grabbed it, and for a while mae me the #1 search result for "S635MP", even above the manufacturer. I've since been moved to #2 by another site similar to my own, and we're both still above the manufacturer.

      Now, I didn't TRY to do this. All I did was post a simple link in my forums. Google is filling itself up with spam.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:30PM (#8364191)
        Google saw that link and grabbed it...

        Just like they do with all of their search results.

        Really, whether you tried to do it or not, doesn't matter. It's a fact that more people were referring to your site with links like "s635mp" than were referring to the manufacturer.

        Reacting to this is exactly what makes google, google and not Yahoo!. I mean, a search engine whose results can't be manipulated has existed a while. It's called a phone book. Yahoo! results are manipulated simply by keyword volume. Google results are manipulated by keyword volume and a proprietary heuristic based on links and pagerank.

        I'm surprised (in retrospect) that it took so many years for so-called ``google-whacking'' to emerge. I wonder how long they [google] knew it was inevitable, or at least a strong possibility (some really bright guys working there)...

        • by willamowius ( 193393 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:19PM (#8364822) Homepage
          > ..a search engine whose results can't be manipulated has existed a while.
          > It's called a phone book.

          The phone book can't be manipulated, because it doesn't try to rank entries. Try to find the right person called "Smith" in a phone book...

          When you look at the Yellow Pages, they do some sort of ranking and they do get manipulated by those with a lot of money who can take out a bigger ad, but aren't better than any other business.
        • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @06:23PM (#8367676) Journal
          I'm surprised (in retrospect) that it took so many years for so-called ``google-whacking'' to emerge.

          A Googlewhack [googlewhack.com] is a two-word Google query that returns exactly one result.

          The term you're looking for is probably Googlebombing [wikipedia.org], which refers to deliberately placing keywords and links on multiple domains to boost a site's PageRank. Originally, Googlebombs were pranks or in good fun, like a search for weapons of mass destruction [google.com].

          Now "Googlebombing" is being expanded by some to include manipulating PageRanks for commercial ends. I'll leave it to the armchair etymologists of Slashdot to decide if that is a correct use of the term.

    • I agree. I get tired of doing searches for uncommon topics just to have a large number of the web sites being crap. Not just irrelevant, but impure and utter crap. I would like to see a function that allows the user to "block web site/page from future searches." Heck, I'd pay for functionality like this.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:05PM (#8363846)
    Google has had the last few years virtually unchallenged as the #1 search engine, because nobody has yet come out with anything that's better than PageRank.

    But, five years is a long time to sit on an innovation without making it better. It gives the competition time to catch up. Furthermore, since PageRank doesn't seem to have seriously changed much, it's actually slipped backwards a bit as more and more people have figured out how to "beat the system" by posting nonsense sites with links to the site they want on top. Google's clearly trying to fight this, but that's an uphill battle.

    Meanwhile, Yahoo now owns three distinct web-crawl based search engines, AltaVista, AllTheWeb, and Inktomi. They also own Overture, which begain life as GoTo.com who was the first to associate real search results with targetted ads. Put all these pieces together. Yahoo also has the original mega-directory site, which Google tries to duplicate by presenting the Open Directory Project on their site. In short, Yahoo's got all the resources to launch a brand with everything that Google has going for it... and when you look at AltaVista [altavista.com] and AllTheWeb [alltheweb.com] they feel quite a bit like Google already. Clearly, Yahoo's gearing up to issue a challenge to Google.

    It really seems like Yahoo is making sure they have all the tech in place right now. When they're sure that they're better to Google, I fully expect to see a marketing campaign claiming that and inviting people to do head-to-head searches.

    Google, as it stands now, is going to look pale in such showdowns. They've got to seriously modify PageRank so that the link spammers get downranked before Yahoo issues that challenge, or else Yahoo could reclaim the search market under it's "Google-killer" product line, and then direct people back to the original Yahoo site for their other portal needs.
  • Hopefully.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HenryFjord ( 754739 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:05PM (#8363859) Homepage

    Hopefully google will not go public anytime soon like they were talking about earlier. I fear that this would stifle their innovation and bring it closer to some of the other failed portals.. ie more ads in an attempt to satisfy investors.

    I think it is a good idea for other search engines to step up to the plate and challenge google. It stops them from beoming complacent and spurs innovation from a desire to be #1.

  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:06PM (#8363863)
    At one point I thought Altavista was the end-all and be-all of search engines. Since then it's become an also-ran (last time I tried it, it really wasn't working at all) and Google has taken its place.

    I see no reason why the cycle cannot repeat. In fact, the cycle may be much like the semiconductor memory business, which has seen boom-bust cycles every few years since the early 70's. Sometimes a name will ride out for many cycles, but usually the company (and as necessary the technology) behind the name changes radically.

    • I agree. At one time Altavista was the best, if somewhat hard to reach, search engine. The problem was that corporate owner Digital did not own the altavista.com domain. The fool that did got a ton of traffic and eventually sold out to Compaq (DEC's new parent) for $3.3 Million. [For what it's worth, I just used Google to verify that.]

      They then squandered the good name they had with misguided strategies, who knows how many different ones, to follow in Yahoo's footsteps and go from Search Engine to Port
  • by morelife ( 213920 ) <f00fbug@pos t R E M O V E T H I Sman.at> on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:06PM (#8363865)
    rather a document organizer. It gets some of its results from Google anyway and just reorganizes it. Search results have the flavor of


    See books about "more stupid f---ing shit" at Amazon.


    targeted organization as in targeted selling. All they want is your demographic datum.

    IOW google will crush them.
    • Meta search engines (Score:3, Informative)

      by steve.m ( 80410 )
      I quite like Vivisimo [vivisimo.com] (after I figured out how to make it include Google in it's query by adding 'google' to the 'sources=' part of the query URL).

      dogpile [dogpile.com] is also quite good, when you've got it set to display results by relevance rather than by engine.

      Remember, Amazon isn't the only online bookstore, ebay isn't the only online auction site and google isn't the only search engine...
      • I quite like Vivisimo (after I figured out how to make it include Google in it's query by adding 'google' to the 'sources=' part of the query URL).

        When I first read that, it made sense. Then I went to Vivisimo's site and realized that was...stupid.

        Why would Vivisimo happen to have a Google API ready to be loaded up when 'google' is appended to the query string? Why would they trust the client's query string and go digging through whatever loadable modules they may have for ones specified in by the query

  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatman@gm3.14ail.com minus pi> on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#8363879) Homepage Journal
    ...maintain their technological lead, goodwill toward them will give them some breathing room. I continued to use Altavista for quite a long time after Google came out. It was what I was familiar with, I liked it, and it worked. Why switch? Eventually, I realized that Google had keen "read your mind" powers and finally switched. :-)
  • bigco (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oogoody ( 302342 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#8363881)
    What will stop google is not their technology,
    but the ossification that takes over every
    large company as it grows. Changes won't be
    made because it is too big a change. Changes
    won't be made because it's not cost justified.
    Marketing concerns will override technology.
    People we get fat and happy. And unlike microsoft
    i can switch to a different search engine
    in a second. Yahoo is looking pretty good...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#8363884)
    Every couple months it's "Can Google stay ahead of new competitor x?" And so far, everytime, the answer has been yes. People shift from search engines quickly when they no longer work, and people are still heading to Google.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:12PM (#8363961)
      Exactly. When Google falls behind, you'll know it because you'll be using something else. This kind of "Entity XXXXXXX may suffer setback YYYYYYY any day now" story isn't reporting at all, it's speculation and ghost stories.
    • Although new searching algorithms and techniques are being developed and matured by researchers and used by new search companies, I don't think they will become more popular than Google is now. Google has reached a high popularity and is known by almost all Internet users. Maybe there'll be some who wants to use the new technologies that other search engines has to offer, but Google's popularity is hard to break down.

      And Google isn't exactly dead, its alive and coping with the new stuff all the time.

    • "Every couple months it's "Can Google stay ahead of new competitor x?" And so far, everytime, the answer has been yes. People shift from search engines quickly when they no longer work, and people are still heading to Google."

      This is because no one has created a significant advancement in searches and marketed it well. If that happens watch out Google.
  • It's search people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Future Linux-Guru ( 34181 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#8363885)
    I type something in and it spits an answer back at me.

    As long as that answer is in the first page, usually the first three items listed, people simply will not care about the backend technology.

    MS and others will brag about the vastness of the numbers of matching items they can find; most people only worry about finding one or two sites.

    This is going to be a big non-event...mark my word.
  • by aacool ( 700143 ) <aamanlamba2g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:08PM (#8363896) Journal
    Google, IMHO, has excelled in what truly counts in the consumer world - branding. As everyone, including slashdotters, knows, googling is now a verb, and not just in math textbooks.

    Enough branding studies have shown that it's very very hard to knock someone off their post once they seize a certain mindshare - e.g. Coke, Windows(grin), and now Google.

    So, irrespective of the technical competence, or otherwise of Google, it is going to be around and the leader, for a long time to come. P.S. My favorite missing google feature: search for bittorrent files

  • by bad enema ( 745446 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:08PM (#8363901)
    Google has been successful due to original thinking. It needs to ride its wave of reputation now rather than later in order to snatch up some of the finest minds to stay on top of this industry that is all about originality and fresh ideas. They seem to be on the right track by providing the work environment that they do.

    But no more stuff like that Friendster wannabe site.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:08PM (#8363903) Homepage Journal
    Keep it simple (as it is) and limit arbitrary changes.

    I'm utterly fed up with eBay with the bloodymindedness of their "enhancement" and roll-out policy. Holding a near strangle-hold on the online-auction market, they are blind to the aggrevations they inflict upon users.

    Radical changes to a familiar interface shouldn't take place without dire need, unfortunately some people think it's fine to dust users. Google is all I want in a search engine and it works very well. The only reason I'd seek another search engine is if they (Google) drive me away.

    BTW, did you know there's a calculator? [google.com] I found it when I did a search for 'stones to pounds'

  • DejaNews (Score:2, Interesting)

    by netglen ( 253539 )
    Don't forget that they also took in DejaNews. Doesn't Google no offer a free language translation service too? I think Google might want to reconsider offering so many service.
    • Re:DejaNews (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Aslan72 ( 647654 )
      I would agree generally. I think what killed yahoo's dominance of the search engine market a few years ago was the cloudiness of their product. Why damage something so simple and uncluttered as a search engine by offering an e-mail service, language translation, etc. My advice would be to not cloud what it is that you do really, really well - searching.

      Google should leverage that freaking huge database that they have and dejanews. None of the other competitors have that comprehensive of a set of dat

    • Google's translation service is nothing more than their own implementation of Babelfish, which hasn't improved at all since AltaVista was using it in the 1990s. It's nothing to write home about, and still makes the same bad mistakes it has always made.
  • by michael path ( 94586 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:09PM (#8363911) Homepage Journal
    I've always been a google fan, but this article is essentially dated on its release, given the fact that the Yahoo! switch has already occured.

    I do hope Google can continue its innovation, and reduce much of the annoyance of bad results through blogs.

    I'm suprised more attention wasn't given to the Google IPO, and what affect that might have on the "relatively small" 1000 person company.

    -m.
  • Still waiting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:09PM (#8363919) Homepage Journal
    for a p2p distributed transparent encrypted indexing system with voted super-nodes.

  • Once a really great tool goes "commercial" it's all downhill from there. One of the main reason I switched to Google back in the day wasn't because it was fast and accurate (which was great) but because it had such a clean interface. Now there are sponsered links that clutter things up. And who knows when/if popups will be a necessary evil to "stay in business".

    Are you Corn Fed? [ebay.com]
  • I for one.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:10PM (#8363927) Journal
    welcome our new search engine overlords. No, really, I'm serious.

    Google is awesome, and is by far the best search engine out there. Google became the best by being the best. I use it because it works, and it works well.

    In order to be dethroned, a search engine needs to work BETTER than Google. I welcome any search engine that can beat Google, as it has to be DAMN good to take that title. Microsoft search flat out sucks. If I look for articles on linux, I get articles about linux alternatives (mostly M$ content). If I google for linux, I get real linux stuff. This is just an example, but it's true across the board. I have yet to see a search engine superior to Google, and I welcome any tool that can prove itself better.
    • Keep in mind that what you cite as "Microsoft search" is actually Inktomi's search (aka Yahoo). Microsoft's search is at beta.search.msn.com and it returns a good result set considering that it isn't rolled out yet. They have some smart people working on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:10PM (#8363931)
    that content is more important than technology (or bells & whistles).

    Forget about Yahoo and Microsoft. If I was google I would keep an eye on booble [booble.com]. No way they can compete.

  • by JusTyler ( 707210 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:12PM (#8363957) Homepage
    Google pays hundreds of researchers and software developers, including more than 60 PhDs, to man the front lines in this technology war

    Google is famous for only hiring the academic best (except for those they pick up in acquisitions), but I'm wondering if things are getting stale over there at Google. Google Labs has shown us some interesting concepts, but when a company opens the field to everyone and asks for people to develop ideas for them (as in the recent $10k prize thing), does it mean those PhDs are sitting around eating pizza all day?

    PhDs are not the guys you leave around to do server maintenance or fix up problems in the clusters. They also don't make great coffee. So if you've got 60 extremely bright individuals (we're talking way into the top percentile) sitting around for a few years.. and Google has tons of money.. why aren't we seeing some major stuff coming out of Google?

    My theory is that either 1) the PhDs are being stifled by upper management, 2) the PhDs aren't really as smart as they're meant to be, or 3) Google has something absolutely massive just around the corner... Take your bets, gentlemen.
    • Anybody who knows they have a great new algorithm (PhD or not), does not need to join a company to implement it. Why should they join a company and merely become millionares, when they could become billionares. Brin and Page are probably good engineers, but not business geniuses. They found adult supervision to manage the business. The inventor of the next better mousetrap can do the same thing. If they wan't babes, bling-bling, or research dollars, you can do lots more with a billion than a million.
    • by xyzzy ( 10685 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:37PM (#8364278) Homepage
      Just because you have a PhD does not mean that innovation happens instantly. Research proceeds at its own pace, and you can only go so fast. There are very few problems out there that will actually buckle when you throw more talent at it.
    • No offense, but a PhD means very little in the terms of innovation or the business world. I agree that its a good policy to hire the 'best and brightest', but they also have to be the right people for the right job. A PhD computer science expert might be able to design a really cool search engine algorithm, but they might not think of such an activity in the first place. Or, more likely, they have a great concept for technology AND are able to completely design it themsleves, but can't turn it into a viable
    • Smart does not imply creative. Their research will be shaped by what Google is already doing - it is hard for people to truly get a new perspective - this is what the market provides for through competition.

      Also the risk-taking will drop off a cliff once they are public. The litmus test for new products is much more stringent once you have quarterly reports. And yes, they are going to have an IPO, stop debating it.

  • Mousetraps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blogboy ( 638908 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:12PM (#8363968)
    That's what technology is, isn't it? The constant search for something better than what's available? And the approach of many companies (insert any NASDAQ 100 company here) is wait-and-see. See how the poineer does it, do the same, but throw some more bells and whistles in, or just market it better.

    Google has a brilliant algorithm, thanks their 60 PhD's. But there's plenty of other PhD's out there, some of whom I'm sure are just finishing up their newest, succeeding algorithm. It's a constant game of king of the hill.
  • by elwinc ( 663074 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:13PM (#8363986)
    I'm a heavy google user, but I still miss altavista's ability to search for stems. For example, an altavista search for "slid* rul*" will get 'slide rules,' 'sliding rulers,' and plenty of other variations. Google does support whole word wildcards (try "miserable * failure") but stems are even more useful.
  • by sunami ( 751539 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:15PM (#8364004)
    .....in that everyone uses it, and everyone HAS used it for the past five years, or longer. People trust it, and that is something that just doesn't vanish. Plus, they HAVE done new things, such as google news.
  • In 3 months? (Score:5, Informative)

    by oGMo ( 379 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:15PM (#8364010)

    People seem to think Google is simply a place to find HTML pages. You type in your words, and poof, you get some relavent sites. Could this be replaced in 3 months? Google has a huge index, a very good search algorithm, and works for most people, but (in theory) someone might come up with a working alternative in that period. However:

    • Images [google.com] is great for searching for pictures. The results are uncannily good.
    • Groups [google.com] lets you search Google's huge Usenet archive (remember when they purchased this from Deja?).
    • News [google.com] is my primary source for world news.
    • Froogle [google.com] is great when searching for where to buy almost anything.
    • Answers [google.com] lets you pay for research when the rest don't cut it.
    • Catalogs [google.com] lets you search mail order catalogs for when Froogle doesn't cut it.

    And more [google.com]. Babelfish translation? Caching like a billion pages? Simple design, with text ads that are actually relavent? In 3 months.

    Yeah, right.

    • Re:In 3 months? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by glinden ( 56181 ) *
      • [Google] News is my primary source for world news.

      In the shamless-self-promotion-department, if you like Google News, might give Findory News [findory.com] a try. It's similar to Google News, but which articles are featured depends on your reading habits.

      So, if you read many tech news related to Linux, for example, it will emphasis news articles that are interesting to people who like tech news on Linux. It adapts to your interests.

  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:17PM (#8364024)
    Someone should invent a search engine with regular expression support. *sigh* A world with regexp-enabled search engines... That would be a wonderful world to live in.
  • by ohzero ( 525786 ) <onemillioninchangeNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:19PM (#8364053) Homepage Journal
    Google's market position when they IPO has nothing to do with their technology. It has to do with their brand. "Googling" for something is the effective equivalent of going to get a Kleenex. Noone asked for a tissue. The market is going to be buying faith in the Google brand, and it's loyal userbase.
  • by toleransi ( 693306 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:22PM (#8364083)
    Google is in a no man's land, of sorts. It has penetrated enough to be considered almost quasi-public, yet it does not have the security that such a status would offer, and must constantly watch its back. The company should know by now that users are not happy with the level of transparency. Yet, we see Orkut christened with very little explanation [talking.to]. End-users won't support a company that is overly secretive if there are alternatives.
  • by Flamingcheeze ( 737589 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:22PM (#8364091) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't it seem simple enough to have a feedback system of sorts? Say I search for "Dell LCD Monitor Reviews" and get nothing but vendor sites, I could check a box next to all the Googlespam that says "not helpful."

    It would be the rebuttal to Google bombing... searchers could fight back by giving the crap a thumbs-down. Of course, then you would have the bombers voting down all the ligit sites. Dammit.

  • The issue's moot... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sammyo ( 166904 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:23PM (#8364093) Journal
    I kinda like this one, [mooter.com] but not enough to not slashdot them. A cool pun, a funky gui, what more could you want in a nextgen search engine.
  • by stuffduff ( 681819 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:28PM (#8364164) Journal
    Todays search engines work a lot like information sieves, or panning for gold. The idea seems to be to take a bunch of stuff and wash away the un-needed, leaving behind (we hope) what we were looking for. However the very nature of the web provides the opportunity for looking at the relationships between ideas, the synthasis of knowledge as opposed to just collections of information. While the 'tricks' from the microsoft research projects look promising; only a true 'learning machine' will be able to go beyond the information and delevop a 'meta-interpretation/representation' of the raw data in order to support a 'meta-understanding' that is traversible and navigable in that we can not only connect with what we don't know, but that we can explore the unknown in terms of its relationship with what we do know.
  • by bad enema ( 745446 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:30PM (#8364194)
    The majority of users who use search engines are just end users anyways and appreciate the simplicity of Google's page design. I go to Yahoo, Altavista and Lycos and there's half a million links all over the place. I go to Google, and there's a nice clean page with the text box smack right in the middle.

    Visual appeal still counts.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:33PM (#8364234)
    Someone of course will come in not so much with a better search, but a different search, and that will be equated with better. The major search engines will have to fold in these innovations to stay relevant. The newcomer will have to adopt the best of the entrenched players if they want to last. All around its a big win for users, until that fateful and unavoidable day when people start to realize that uber-searches are the de facto "big brother" everyone fears will materialze at some point.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:35PM (#8364259)
    There are three very distinct elements involved in creating a powerhouse search engine:

    - A large crawl: A search engine with nothing in its database isn't going to work very well. A search engine needs as big of a crawl as possible in order to have any results at all. This takes huge resources in terms of bandwidth and computing power. Some of the early search engines met their demise when they couldn't afford to keep their crawlers growing as fast as new web content comes out.

    - The Sorter: Once the long list of results that match the keywords are pulled out of the crawl, a sort needs to be applied in order to locate the best results and present them first. Google got vaulted to the top because PageRank was better than anybody else has ever put out. However, PageRank isn't perfect, so there is still room for somebody to make something better than PageRank.

    -Promotion: A web site just sits there unused if it isn't promoted. Google never spent much on advertising and it just relied on word of mouth since it was so strong in the other two areas. And now that everyone turns to them first without even checking other engines, that has given them the strong advantage of a strong brand image. However, we've seen plenty of cases where inferior technology has been beaten out by better marketing. If somebody's tech passes Google, without marketing it nobody will know about it. Therefore, look for the challengers to be launching major ad campaigns inviting people to at least try them before they assume Google is better.

    Can anybody put it all together? We're about to find out...
  • I'm sure other people have come across this. It's when you do a search, and the resulting page contains the keyword, but only as part of a list of other somewhat related terms. For example, if you search for "Malamute" and google returns a page which is a list of every single dog breed. Kind of a tricky problem though.
  • technology ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsiangkun ( 746511 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:39PM (#8364319) Homepage
    I don't really care who has the most advanced search capabilities. I use google because all the paid links appear off to the side in a different color.

    Thats all I really want . . . to get my search result seperate from the commercially paid for product placements.

    --Tsiangkun
  • by 8400_RPM ( 716968 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:40PM (#8364336)
    Google should allow users to 'help' them. Install something on your computer so they can see when you bookmark something, and what bookmarks everyone has. For people have have 'good taste' in bookmarks, theres results count higher than someone with BS bookmarks. I think this would improve accuracy.
  • I thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlackShirt ( 690851 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:44PM (#8364393) Journal
    ... it could be great idea to publish unanswered questions as weblog.

    Even google cannot answer everything. Web is limited even if you don't believe it. You post your question. Answers will come through trackback, comments, email. Googling the web after you posted the question. Or not.

    All you need is some tag to mark post as answer or question. Hot list like metafilter to aggregate.

    Is it a good idea or does it belong to recycle bin?

    Mailing lists used to be about that. Discussing specific problems. Finding answers. Nowadays they are quite dead. Except some. Newbies, spam, whatever is the reasons. Problem is that those who possess knowledge don't have enough stimulus to share it. I don't solve that problem. The answer might be micropayments or gifts via amazon.

    But make a good deed today. Answer one or two questions. In a year it might make quite a lot. In some day you might need answer to something yourself.

    http://answers.google.com/answers/main
    http://i haventfound.blogspot.com/
  • But google is an acronym for 'search the internet'

    Hey can you jump on your computer and MSN Search this for me ...

    Hey get on and Yahoo this term ...

    Nothing else will work ...
  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @01:55PM (#8364533)
    A lot of articles (including this one) are focused with how Google (and their would-be competitors) can improve search via algorithms like PageRank; and again and again the proposed/imaged solutions are based on server-side computation. IMHO, the real solution to improving search is client-side -- and I don't mean search toolbars -- but rather using the computional power of the client to provide a better experience than what is available inside your browser. Searching in a browser is cool, but why not build a powerful Google search client app?

    As a simple example: if your a Mac user, Beholder [mesadynamics.com] is really a much more useful image search frontend than using images.google.com alone (yes, I've mentioned this before, but hey, a developer has to eat).
    • One issue I see is the user experience context.

      I'd say that 80-90% of the time when I want to do a search, I'm usually, at that point, doing something on the web. Having Google reachable at another website is convenient compared to having to fire up another client application to do a search.

      I think one feature that would be awesome in a client-side app (but wouldnt' be limited so) would be a user history of Google searches. I'm looking random things up all day and it would be cool if I could have tho
    • The thing is, Google's servers are many orders of magnitude more powerful than your PC. It can calculate more search algorithms in a millisecond than your (or my) PC can compute in seconds. Seconds mean a lot when you're doing something like this. Very few people have the patience to wait and wait and wait, even if yes, it's fast.

      • True, Google has optimized its search ahead of time so that its basic search is simply a matter of very, very fast hash lookups -- ones that can be handled by their server farms given the number of queries they typically work on simultaneously. And that is exactly the reason why Google can't offer more advanced data mining server-side. If ten million people wanted to perform an exhaustive analysis, Google would slow to a crawl. For basic searches, Google is fast. But for the "future of search" my bet is
  • Back in Undergrad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:35PM (#8365014)
    Google really helped with research papers couple years ago, but now I find there's too much spam. So much so, that now I'm into Grad studies, I am going to Lexis-Nexis to find out information about topics. Also I have found that the Internet is certianly not what it used to be either in terms of quality of content. There used to be a lot more academic sites appear when I searching for information on a topic. Now, especially being in an political science related field, International Affairs, doing a web search on some topics leads to dozens of ranting bloggers instead of more academic type work.
  • by Everyman ( 197621 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @04:13PM (#8366210) Homepage
    Yes, Google has a spam problem. It has been getting worse over the last year. In April, 2003 Google stopped crawling the web once per month, and then recalculating PageRank based on that monthly crawl. Since then, there has been a question of whether PageRank can even be calculated accurately by Google.

    I speculated about a 4-byte docID overflow problem in an essay last June at Google Watch [google-watch.org]. In recent months Google started a "Supplemental Index" for some curious, unexplained reason. Their total number of pages indexed was recently updated to 4,285,199,774 -- just below the maximum for a 32-bit integer. It looks as suspicious now as it did last June.

    Last November, Google began using an on-the-fly filter to further refine the search results for ecommerce sites. Some spam was deleted, a lot of other spam took its place, and a lot of mom and pop ecommerce sites were dropped inadvertently. Many people were unhappy.

    Further evidence that Google's old ranking system is broken is the fact that three famous Googlebombs, "french military victories," "weapons of mass destruction" and "miserable failure" are all still working. The first one is eleven months old. It used to be that such Googlebombs were suppressed at the next monthly crawl, when PageRank was recalculated. Now it seems that suppressing them is beyond Google's ability. How else can you explain why Google puts up with these widely-publicized embarrassments?

    Google's results remain unsurpassed for noncommercial sites from EDU, ORG, and GOV domains, however. Their crawling of the noncommercial sector is the most complete of any engine. The reason Google does so well here is probably because spam isn't much of a problem in this area.

    So far Yahoo doesn't appear to be making much of an effort at covering the noncommercial web. It should be added that Google has more of a spam problem simply because spammers have been focused on Google for so long. Once Yahoo gets the same attention from spammers, then we'll be able to make a fair comparison of Yahoo with Google.
  • by hackrobat ( 467625 ) <manish.jethaniNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @04:14PM (#8366235) Homepage
    "Right now, when you want to search for information, you basically stop everything you're doing, pull up a separate application, run the search, then try to integrate the search result into whatever you were doing before," says Microsoft information retrieval expert Susan Dumais.

    FWIW, in Mozilla Firebird, you can select a bunch of text, right-click on it, and go "Search the Web"... . I've never had to open a separate window for searching. Now, it would be so nice to have this in other apps.

    Take email, for example. My idea is that when I'm posting a query to a mailing list, as I type in the words, the program should dynamically build a set of "related links" for the content I have typed in the email. That way, people won't have to ask me to STFW everytime I act clueless and send a simple query to the list.

    Alright, I'm kidding. I'm not a clueless user, but you get the idea. For any content on my screen at any given time, I'd like to be able to access "related content" from... er... a sidebar on the screen?

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