Fast Flip: Is Bing Affecting Google?

…via Ask and SearchMe, that is?  Let me explain.  Google announced a new bit of interface design into its News search results today: Fast Flip:

Google Fast Flip is a web application that lets users…”flip” through pages online as quickly as flipping through a magazine…We capture images of the articles on our partners’ websites and then display them in an easy-to-read way…Readers can flip through stories quickly by simply pressing the left- and right-arrow keys until they find one that catches their interest. Clicking on the story takes them directly to the publisher’s website.

Funny, it reminds me a lot of (see this writeup by Danny Sullivan) from 2008, which itself was largely a continuation of Ask’s visual previews (binoculars) from 2006.  Funny thing is, visual search interfaces such as these have been pretty universally panned for quite some time now.  And panned by Google as well, if I remember correctly — I’m fairly sure I read something fairly official about it, though darned if I can find that post because Google’s search doesn’t allow “sort by least recent” relevant results, only “sort by most recent”.  Personally, I love interfaces like this and find them much easier to deal with.  But Google disagrees, and has (presumably) done all sorts of A/B testing to conclude that users don’t want to see their search results visually.  Because otherwise they would have rolled out these changes years ago, at the same time as, if not ahead of, Ask and SearchMe.  Right?

Or are Bing’s innovations in the interface domain finally spurring Google on, finally providing the competition to improve search that A/B testing cannot?  Continue reading…

Google’s Long Term Goals: More of the Same

A few days ago there was a Techcrunch interview of Google’s Eric Schmidt. Here’s the bit that struck me:

[TC] The long term goal of Google search, he says, is to give the user one exactly right answer to a query:

[Schmidt] So I don’t know how to characterize the next 10 years except [...]

My Luddite Summer

I came across an interesting post today entitled “My Luddite Summer” by NYT blogger Timothy Egan.  Just wanted to share this tidbit:

Came back to the city. Took part in a three-day experiment with other writers to see who was better informed — readers of newspapers only, or readers of the Web who had [...]

Is Good Enough Good Enough?

The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine” is the title of a new Wired article.  In it, Robert Capps makes the following point:

The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier. As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing. We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they’re actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as “high-quality.”  And it’s happening everywhere. As more sectors connect to the digital world, from medicine to the military, they too are seeing the rise of Good Enough tools like the Flip [video camera]. Suddenly what seemed perfect is anything but, and products that appear mediocre at first glance are often the perfect fit.

Capps goes on to make his point using a number of examples: The Flip video camera (easy).  Web apps (no installation).  Mp3s (small file size).  Even healthcare.  Quality, he says, is no longer measured by fidelity and richness of experience.  It is measured by convenience.

I suppose I cannot argue with empiricism.  What is is what is, and the article as a whole seems fairly descriptively accurate.  But let me wax normative for a moment.  Continue reading…

Marissa Mayer talk at PARC

I just got back from a PARC open forum, in which Marissa Mayer gave a talk about the Physics of Data, and Innovation at Google.  All in all, it was fine.  Maybe a third of the talk was about new possibilities enabled by large quantities of data (Google Flu Trends, better search, etc.)  The other two-thirds were dedicated to introducing the audience to some longer-tail Google products that many folks might not have known about.  So I’m not going to go into detail about the talk as a whole, but I will point out two tidbits that were the most interesting to me.  One is positive, one is negative. Continue reading…

Google not very Googly

If it wasn’t official before, it is now.  Google self-advertises:

In the latest shot fired in Google Inc.’s ongoing battle with Microsoft Corp., Google announced today that it’s taking this fight to the streets.


Google is kicking off a month-long ad campaign for its online suite of enterprise office applications. The campaign will have the search giant leasing billboard space in four major U.S. cities — New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. Each work day will have a different message for commuters to take in.

Each day there will be a different message.  Each day!  This is no small self-advertising undertaking.

Does anyone remember when the lack of self-advertisement was one of the primary points of pride for the company?  We’re not talking 10 years ago.  Even as recently as SIGIR 2008, Kai Fu Lee stated in front of an audience of 500+ people that Google categorically does not self-advertise.  Just a few months before that, Google’s VP of Marketing was interviewed by Business Week: Continue reading…

Comments: Search Engines and Advertising

I have been quiet lately on the blogpost front. Am still looking for a free moment to write up my reactions to the recent SIGIR 2009 conference.  In the meantime, I am having a good time with Neal Richter and Daniel Tunkelang, discussing the topic of Search and Advertising.  Please come join in the [...]

Googling with Bing

I’ve been rather quiet on the blog as of late, and that will probably continue for a while.  My summer has been much busier than expected.  In the meantime, I’ll share a short sketch that I recently came across, entitled “Googling with Bing“.  Enjoy.

Will Chrome OS have RAW support?

Much ado has been made today in the blogosphere about the newly announced (but 1.5 years from being shipped) Chrome OS from that search engine company, Google.  Here is an excerpt from the announcement: 

We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

This reminds me of a long-standing debate that I’ve had with a few of my colleagues at work, about the relative value of browser-based web apps, versus desktop-based, internet-enabled apps.  Chrome does not end this debate, but I see it as a step in the latter direction.

There is a big, big question that I have about all this, though.  And it’s something that I’ve not seen in the dozens of official and unofficial blogposts that I’ve read so far today.  And that issue is one of hardware compatibility.  A real operating system has to interface with external devices, and accommodate all types of information captured and collected by the user.  Yes, it’s true that more and more people are living their entire digital lives on the internet, and that much of what they do involves browsing, viewing, and sharing of information within a web context.  

However, in order to get that information onto the web in the first place, there needs to be some sort of user-facing hardware that captures that information.  A physical keyboard (or touchscreen keyboard) are pieces of hardware for capturing text information.  And a camera is a piece of hardware for capturing image information. So my question is: If the ChromeOS is to serve as the operating system for my computer, will I be able to plug my camera into that computer, and upload the files from the camera to the web, in such a form that others can view those images?   Continue reading…

Bing = Bing Is Not Google

As reported by Scoble:

I agree — very clever and quite funny.  A recursion that all computer scientists should appreciate, tipping its hat to similarly-constructed acronyms, such as GNU (Gnu’s Not Unix) and Pine (Pine is not Elm).

It’s interesting, too, how the new generation references the older generation, i.e. the final character [...]