‘Instant' search speculates query and pushes search output

Recently Google has come out with a slew of new features meant for making information retrieval further easy. A quick roundup of those features follows.

Google Instant

As you may have already noticed, Google has introduced a new feature called ‘Instant' search, which helps you obtain search results as soon as you start entering the string. While you enter the search string, Google speculates your search intention and displays search results based on its guess in real-time. This means the search results will continue to change as you keep on entering the keyword/phrase. An advantage of this innovation is that we can obtain results prior to completing the full string and pressing the ‘Enter' key. For instance, if you wish to view the current time in Sydney, Google will display it as soon as you enter the string ‘time syd' — no need to finish the string and press the enter key. And if you intend to do simple computations with Google, it will display the result of an arithmetic expression at every stage — as soon as you begin entering a term (like 12*13) Google will start displaying the result of the computation in real-time. Of course, this feature may not be a huge productivity booster; but still this could be fun and useful.

As already mentioned when you start typing in the search string Google speculates your search query and pushes the search output based on its guess. As described in the blog post here (http://www.researchbuzz.org/r/?p=2255), you can stop Google from guessing by prefixing the first search term with a ‘+'. Once the initial search term is prefixed with ‘+' Google will continuously display new search results for each of your keystrokes.

Apart from being used as a search facilitator, ‘Google Instant' could be beneficial in other circumstances. For instance, an instructor teaching the features of Google search may find it useful while demonstrating certain search tricks. Another significant development in this domain is that the concept of ‘instantifying' has triggered the imagination of skilled program- mers worldwide and they are adopting it in different applications. One of them replicated this idea to Youtube and created ‘Youtube Instant' (http://ytinstant.com/), an application to search Youtube videos in real-time. As you enter the string the service anticipates your intention and automatically starts playing a video based on its guess. As per the Venturebeat report here (http://venturebeat.com/2010/09/10/youtube-instant-job/), this application fetched the developer a job offer from Youtube. The application ‘GoogleMaps Instant' is yet another instance of this trend. It seems a plethora of such ‘instantified' applications are coming up as can be seen from Instantise,which offers links to several similar applications.

Some people consider Google Instant as a distraction or a gimmick. Though it is too early to judge, one cannot simply ignore this innovation, which has the potential to change one's search behaviour.

Finding right blogs

There cannot be two opinions on the significance of blog technology, which has bestowed netizens with immense autonomy. It has become a major content dissemination channel for organizations, professionals and even for lay netizens. As a corollary, blogosphere has become a fertile ground for information seekers. Anyone doing serious research cannot afford to ignore the discussions taking place in the blogosphere. Regular scanning of blogs pertaining to one's area is a must and it would certainly fetch his/her rich dividends. However, despite the existence of many blog search engines (like Technorati, BlogPulse and Blogcatalog), spotting the right blogs related to a specific topic remains challenging even now. In this context, a new feature introduced by Google in its blog search, assumes relevance. Google's blog search has recently introduced a feature called ‘Homepages” meant for helping us easily find blogs related to a topic. For instance, if one invokes a ‘blog search' on the string ‘statistics', he/she will obtain all the blog posts that contain this string. In addition, if he/she clicks on the option ‘Homepages', Google will display a set of blogs related to ‘statistics'.

Google real-time

As you would already know, along with usual search results, Google offers latest updates from social messaging and networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz too. Recently Google introduced a separate interface for its real-time search feature (http://www.google.com/realtime/). An advantage of this new facility is that it helps us sort the results according to location, time etc.

Expert search

Besides being an effective communication/information dissemination tool, Twitter helps us find subject experts. NetSpeak has already featured several tools meant for locating experts via Twitter database (like Listorious and Google Lab's ‘Follow Finder'). If you are looking for yet another means to discover people knowledgeable in a particular subject via the Twitter network, take a glance at the new expert search offer from the real-time search service Topsy (http://topsy.com/experts).

He can be contacted: jmurali@gmail.com

Keywords: GoogleGoogle Instantblog