Monday, January 28, 2008

The Google Database

I just checked out the 'official Google blog' - which is a great source for all things new at Google - and found a link to Google Experimental Search.

(As an aside, one of the things I love about Google is that they literally have new products strewn about their website in various stages of completion. Some people think this is sloppy. I love it, it's like a technology candy store. Ok, that's a little geeky, I know.)

There have been 'Google hacks' around for a while, and to some extent these new views make visible options that existed but were hidden or hard to use (like date search filtering). Overall though, I think they are great additions. They bring a lot of useful functionality to the fore and bring Google one step closer to being a true query-like database -where you can display, filter, and drill-down to new levels of detail with ease.

There's a map view - this is a map of pizza places in Greenwich Village. Nothing too earth-shattering about this one, you can replicate much if this view with local map search.

There is a a time line view - this is a time line of WWII. Very useful display. I am always wanting to see the evolution of an idea or concept on the web, this allows you to plot pages against their dates. You can even click on the date ranges and it 'drills-down' in that range to show still further ranges.

Then there is the list view with further information - this a search for Facebook. This is my favorite addition and it's going straight onto my iGoogle page as a default. Just click on the additional information you want to see in each link and the descriptive text resets to reveal measurements, dates, locations, images or your search term. Very useful for a quick scan to get to the result you need.

Problems do exist however. A time line search for Facebook reveals mentions of the term as far back as 1977. No, it's not a link to a modern day Nostradamus. Some guy simply made a blog post about Facebook, MySpace and Times Square in 1977. I am sure there are plenty of other examples of temporal displacement.

Such is the difficulty of organizing the World's information.

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