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Computer Scientist Calls For Web Search Shake-Up

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the what's-wrong-with-repackaging dept.

Google 141

alphadogg writes "Given the seemingly non-stop battle between Google, Microsoft and others in Web search, you might think this is a pretty fertile area for new ideas. But a University of Washington computer science professor thinks otherwise and is calling on academia and industry to get way more creative. Timed to coincide with this year's 20th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee springing the World Wide Web upon us, Oren Etzioni Thursday will have a commentary titled 'Search needs a shake-up' published in the journal Nature. The main obstacle to progress 'seems to be a curious lack of ambition and imagination,' Etzioni writes in the piece, which he acknowledges 'is meant to be provocative.'"

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David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#36979194)

I think this idea is DOA. A startup vs Bing vs Google. Enough said.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979392)

I think this idea is DOA. A startup vs Bing vs Google. Enough said.

Yeah, just like Google vs. Yahoo. Do you charge for investment advice?

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#36979536)

Yeah, just like Google vs. Yahoo. Do you charge for investment advice?

It's a very different landscape now as compared to when Google had to climb Mt Yahoo to the top. Google is much larger than Yahoo ever could have been and it has its tentacles in so many pies that we'll be using Google as a verb for the rest of our lives (at which point Google will be streaming ads into our coffins just in case). Google succeeded at diversifying but not at the expense of its core service.

If Google hits a rough patch they'll just reign in some of their experimental spending and squeeze profits out of their search business. They'll start subsidizing Android phones with ads in order to get them in the hands of more and more people in poorer and poorer areas. I wouldn't be surprised to see them co-branding phones in third world nations were they don't have much disposable income but they consume cigarettes, alcohol and sugary drinks.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

That Guy From Mrktng (2274712) | about 3 years ago | (#36982130)

Because everybody knows smarthphones are a priority in third world nations and it's wooping full coverage WIFI/4G internet connectivity.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (1)

jjsm (895856) | about 3 years ago | (#36979438)

Taken from Y Combinator*:

Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund by Paul Graham July 2008 ... 16. A form of search that depends on design. Google doesn't have a lot of weaknesses. One of the biggest is that they have no sense of design. They do the next best thing, which is to keep things sparse. But if there were a kind of search that depended a lot on design, a startup might actually be able to beat Google at search. I don't know if there is, but if you do, we'd love to hear from you.

* http://ycombinator.com/ideas.html [ycombinator.com]

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#36979568)

Could you define what "design" even means in this context?

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979690)

Lots of annoying Flash, pop-ups, and unnecessary Javascript.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | about 3 years ago | (#36980122)

Exactly. I'm betting they don't realise that the average person *likes* simple, consise websites. JS and Flash just slow things down and generally don't add much to the usability of the site.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (2)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36980550)

Flash (almost?) never adds usability. Flash may add some level of interactivity, but usually no more than JS can and JS will do it with lower CPU utilization and fewer security vulnerabilities.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980236)

How retarded. One of the reasons people switched to Google in the first place was because of that "sparse" design. It's beautiful in its simplicity.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (1)

That Guy From Mrktng (2274712) | about 3 years ago | (#36982148)

Don't mention bandwidth, you can do neat things in CSS and JS alone w/out starting to serve bitmaps. If only SVG would be taken seriously.

m.google.com vs Apps vs Apple vs. Tellme (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#36980366)

First of all, there's an opportunity for other search systems even within Google - as TFA says, Classic Google Search isn't really designed for the constraints of a cellphone screen (much less for voice-based searches, where the keyword model might not even be the right engine to put underneath the user interface, unlike mobile-phone search where it probably is.) A good mobile-phone search UI would be a real improvement, whether or not you end up selling your startup to Google, or marketing your search tool as an Android App..

Second, any time you're talking about Design as a strategic business tool in an even vaguely computer-related area, you've got to think about Apple. They may not want to eat your lunch today, but if they ever do, they'll come out with a product that's insanely great, paradigm-shifting, and shiny, and you'll have to deal with them. Maybe it'll look a better product in your current space, like iPods taking over the MP3 market, but then you find out that iTunes is at least as important as the hardware itself, or maybe it'll be something even more subversive, like an App Store.

And then there are companies like Tellme or Genesys, which have been in the IVR / dumb-phone voice search space for decades, and probably have cool things to do in the smartphone space as well, or Nuance (who own Dragon Dictate and a few other technologies.) (And Tellme got bought by Microsoft a few years back, so there are some hooks into other large product sets.)

Re:m.google.com vs Apps vs Apple vs. Tellme (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 3 years ago | (#36980638)

> you've got to think about Apple. They may not want to eat your lunch today, but if they ever do, they'll come out with a product that's insanely great, paradigm-shifting, and shiny, and you'll have to deal with them

Yeah! The way the Pippin kicked every other game console's ass!

Wait, what?

Re:m.google.com vs Apps vs Apple vs. Tellme (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#36981498)

Note to self: this was BEFORE SJ returned to Apple.

If he was at the helm then, it is unlikely to have ever seen daylight.

Re:m.google.com vs Apps vs Apple vs. Tellme (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 3 years ago | (#36982090)

Explain the puck mouse, then. It routinely winds up on the lists of worst 'innovations.' Style over functionality is about the only explanation for it

And, for that matter, the length of time that they held onto the single-button mouse while the majority of their customers were buying third party replacements.

The Apple III? The one that Jobs himself insisted wouldn't have cooling fans or heat sinks? The one that would get so hot that it would destroy floppy disks and damage the motherboard?

The 20th anniversary Mac? A $7500 machine was basically a Powerbook in a fancy case?

Or how about the iPod HiFi? You can't even blame it on a style over functionality mentality.

How about the $29 earbuds that come apart faster than a cheap hooker's legs? They sound marginally better than the ones that I can get at the dollar store, but they don't last any longer.

Yes, Apple has made some great products, but they've also made some mediocre ones and they've made a few that straight up sucked. Steve Jobs has been at the helm for some of the worst, too *coughpuckmousecough*

Re:m.google.com vs Apps vs Apple vs. Tellme (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36982278)

It's inappropriate to call it a puck mouse. It wasn't nearly tough enough to be used as an actual hockey puck.

But then, while the ergonomics sucked, it worked well. That's a lot more than I can say for many of the other mice that have been on the market, including a few from MS, Logitech, and other major brand names.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#36979562)

I think this idea is DOA. A startup vs Bing vs Google. Enough said.

Wrong.

Google appeared on the scene where Yahoo was viewed as the dominant player. Google won their market with a simple, effective, search engine - no garbage ads, results ranked according to search criteria.

This statement "The main obstacle to progress 'seems to be a curious lack of ambition and imagination,' " is also, IMHO wrong. The main obstacle to progress is the desire to make a whopping big fortune. Google is now as bad as Yahoo was when Google appeared on the scene - people have bought 'words' searches in Google no longer are accurate to what I search for, the first things to pop up are often someone trying to sell something which (often as not) has nothing to do with what I searching for - i.e. try doing some research on crustaceans and I get recommendations on restaurants with crab on the menu.

Another player could march right in and scoop Google, but the first thing they have to do is sacrifice being billionaires. Not many people seem interested in taking on the Search For Profit companies.

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980000)

Google appeared on the scene where Yahoo was viewed as the dominant player.

Actually, AltaVista was the dominant search player in Google's formative years. Yahoo was viewed as the dominant player in "what the fuck is this crap - a Swiss Army knife?" (shudders at the recollection).

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#36980112)

"Google is now as bad as Yahoo was when Google appeared on the scene - people have bought 'words' searches in Google no longer are accurate to what I search for."

Unless google is selling search words (which I think they aren't---ads are still on the right side), this is a consequence of the site owners getting much more sophisticated about gaming the system.

If it had 1999 level Altavista or Yahoo technology (i.e. look for pages and links which have words similar to the ones being searched for), the first 20 pages of any search would all be commercial searchspam & linkfarms.

This is a hostile technological war---the searchees are attempting to trick the searcher.

In this, no doubt Google has quite a bit of proprietary experience on how to deal with this problem which most startups wouldn't---and this requires deep statistical analysis over immense data. This problem also greatly increases the investment necessary to have a good search engine today vs the previous decade.

Yahoo was dominant? Altavista was better (2)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#36980394)

Yahoo may have been in more things, but Altavista was really the search engine to beat, and Google beat them. And of course there were other search/portal companies (like Excite, which @Home unfortunately decided to buy/merge for $Nbillion.)

Re:David vs Goliath vs Goliath's Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980512)

cuil anyone?

Another hoax? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#36979252)

C'mon.

This dude's name is just a scrabble draw of the 6 most common letters in the English language...and z.

Re:Another hoax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980080)

If the professor were fictitious, that probably would have made my AI final easier.

Re:Another hoax? (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#36980430)

Obviously it's not an English name (:-) And there are other Etzioni's out there, such as Amitai Etzioni, but I suppose his name doesn't help refute your theory very well...

Re:Another hoax? (1)

makubesu (1910402) | about 3 years ago | (#36980694)

I would try searching for his name to see if it's real, but search clearly needs a shake up before I can perform such important tasks.

You mean Wolfram Alpha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979274)

Yeah, it sucked.

There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

mhh91 (1784516) | about 3 years ago | (#36979282)

And it's over web search?

That's odd, I thought it was just Google.

I'm sorry, but I Bing doesn't really count as a serious search engine, at least for me.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (2)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36979300)

What's "Bing"?

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#36979576)

What's "Bing"?

Bing was a crooner from the fourties and fifties, often appearing with Bob Hope in the series of movies known as the "Road to" pictures. Road to Morocco, Road to Bali, etc. His last name was Crosby.

Do not confuse him with Bill Cosby, although I expect that Google will ask you "did you mean Bing Cosby?" should you Google the name. Also not the same as Norm Crosby.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36979776)

I love that Bing. Great voice, great entertainer.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36982266)

Wife hates him. He also beat his kids. Died like a pro, on the golf course.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979926)

What's "Bing"?

Its a Microsoft web application you use to get Google search results from two days ago.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36979942)

Feigned ignorance is pretty pathetic. My grandpa knows what Bing is. Doesn't mean he uses it, but he knows it's there. It's used by about 11% of people... roughly double the installed base of OS X. Are you going to pretend you don't know what a Mac is next? And don't even get me started on comparisons to Linux. Hell, I'd wager that the majority of people honestly don't know what Linux is.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#36980264)

Feigned ignorance is pretty pathetic. My grandpa knows what Bing is.

Congratulations, you've outed your grandpa as having contributed to the average 80 IQ of IE users. Meanwhile, I myself have to admit that whenever I see "Bing" I'm momentarily confused until I remember it's a failed search engine like lycos or that search engine with the cartoon spider with the magnifying glass. Nowhere near the instant recognition of google yahoo, altavista, lycos, etc.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36980406)

If you're going be an a$$hole when replying, you might want to double check your facts first. Here's a hint, your Mac installed base numbers are way low. And if you can't deal with feigned ignorance of a product that gets 90% of it's 11% usage simply by virtue of the fact that it's the default search engine in IE, then you either work for M$ or you need to lighten up. Windows 7 is more than 30% of the installed base, has Bing as it's default search engine, and can't keep those most of those users. By almost any measure, Bing is a failure in the marketplace.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | about 3 years ago | (#36980174)

Google might answer:
"Bing is that search engine that copies our results, isn't it?"

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (2)

jo42 (227475) | about 3 years ago | (#36980822)

What's "Bing"?

But it's not google.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36980914)

+1 Insightful.

Bing is a verb (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 years ago | (#36980940)

It means to take a bribe to ruin a good product by integrating an inferior search function. "Verizon binged my Droid".

Re:Bing is a verb (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36981044)

+1 Informative.

Re:Bing is a verb (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36981538)

Good point. "Bing it" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

"You've been Binged!" sounds much better (as long as you're not the one being Binged).

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979374)

God that's so clever and unexpected. You've truly grasped at the heart of this topic and furthered our understanding of its principal truth. Thank you, thank you so much for taking the time to post this. Please illuminate us further with which distro and web browser you prefer the most!

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 3 years ago | (#36979452)

Have you ever used Bing? It doesn't seem like it. While I stick to Google, Bing is just as capable, and has some very cool (and useful) features that google doesn't have.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 3 years ago | (#36979842)

I've used it a few times just so I could answer questions like this. It's rubbish. Maybe they've improved their engine in some way since I last tried it, but Google wins hands down every time.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980250)

Normally I think people complaining about Microsoft are just crybabies. But the web is one place where I still get the heebie-jeebies using something of theirs. Despite how the mighty have fallen, I think they've still got a bunker somewhere full of evil, and the web is the new front line... where they're getting their ass kicked.

Re:There's a battle between M$ and Google? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#36980314)

I used it once when it first started and was disgusted. It gave one "answer" on the first page, and you had to go to the next page to find what you really wanted (all of the real links). It's a "decision engine", so it's like Clippy for the Web. Bleh!

They are already perfect ... for making money (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#36979294)

Search engines aren't about finding stuff, they are about shoving stuff into you in a way that maximizes ad-revenue. And as far as I can tell, they couldn't do that any better than they currently do.

I can build a better search engine (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36979338)

But I need access to a data center with thousands of servers, petabytes of storage, and gigabits/s of bandwidth to demonstrate it.

Re:I can build a better search engine (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36979946)

But I need access to a data center with thousands of servers, petabytes of storage, and gigabits/s of bandwidth to demonstrate it.

Ok done! You can find it here: http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/ [amazon.com]

Can't wait to see your demo!

Re:I can build a better search engine (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36980120)

Great, who's gonna put up the $50,000+ for the first month so I can even begin to gather enough data to start performing useful searches. And that's not counting any development time or the learning curve to get familiar with EC2. Got an investor with a few million to spare?

Re:I can build a better search engine (1)

Rary (566291) | about 3 years ago | (#36980968)

Then build it using Google App Engine. You get a pretty significant quota for free. And bonus points for getting Google to host their next biggest competitor. ;)

Re:I can build a better search engine (0)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#36981026)

"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." -- Albert Einstein

You can however simultaneous prepare for and prevent having sex. Many men accomplish this daily.

Before that... (1)

dmomo (256005) | about 3 years ago | (#36979348)

Maybe Search needs a Problem shake up. Innovation is great, but when I search now, more than ever, I quickly find what I am looking for. Spam results remain an issue, but for the most part, I have what I need in seconds.

So, what's the problem? Why does search need a shake up? Do we need to manufacture new problems? The drinking straw has been around for a little over 100 years. Get creative beverage engineers, make a better straw. One that doesn't suck. ... Oh.

I understand that the piece is admittedly supposed to be provocative and start a dialog. So, what search problems do you have today? Is the fact that most search is text based something to overcome? Is there a frontier of a search engine that helps us ask better questions? How about analytical engines like wolfram alpha? Where can these technologies go? What else IS there that we need?

Re:Before that... (1)

RingDev (879105) | about 3 years ago | (#36979460)

I could see some interesting shake ups in searching as we build more social indexing.

I mean, imagine if you could adjust search results based on the results' authors relationship to you?

Looking for a bit of SQL? There's two solutions, but one of them comes from a blog that is written by your former room mate and gets bumped up. Trying to find a good place to eat? Local reviews are handy, but reviews from friends, who you may have a better idea of their expectations and tastes could be significantly MORE valuagle.

etc..

As more data gets out there, more search options open.

-Rick

PS: If this concept has not been patented (unlikely!), please conside this prior art that I have not intent on patenting

Re:Before that... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#36979680)

Looking for a bit of SQL? There's two solutions, but one of them comes from a blog that is written by your former room mate and gets bumped up.

So, do you want Google keeping track of who your former roommates are and that the specific bit of SQL was written not only by someone with the same name but who is actually the same person? Unless you know ahead of time that he is involved in the answer and tell Google to bump the score based on that, Google would have to keep track of it for you so it can do it automatically.

Otherwise, why not just include your roommate's name in the google search yourself and let Google guess why that name is relevant to the search?

Although, I guess if you are going to let Google keep all your personal email and paw through it when they want to, you might as well let them keep track of who your friends and roommates are. Maybe your wish for "friend bumps" can be as simple as Google automatically including the names of all the people in your mailbox and contact list in every search?

Re:Before that... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#36980004)

Google already does something similar. I've had searches with bumped up results because I follow the author's blog on GReader.

Re:Before that... (1)

Georules (655379) | about 3 years ago | (#36980974)

Google already does this, and no I don't want this tracking feature.

Re:Before that... (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 3 years ago | (#36979480)

I RTFA-announcement (There's no actual article yet, I guess, and even if there were, it'd be behind a paywall), but the only thing mentioned is indeed that search is text-based. Apparently, at least for mobile, we'll want voice-recognition, and something along the lines of that Jeopardy!-bot from IBM to give us the answer straight away.

While that's commendable, neither are particularly search-related. One is voice recognition, a well-understood problem, and I've had no problems telling Google Maps / Navigate on an Android phone a bunch of addresses/interests the past 2 weeks. The other is a less-understood problem, but it deals more with parsing search results than searching in the first place.

Maybe the eventual commentary thing will have more 'provocative' things.

If I were to go provocative with a search engine, I'd start ignoring robots.txt, flip off facebook and index the heck out of it, use the facial recognition tech I already have but beefed up a bit by a recent acquisition to do facial searches (privacy concerns be damned), allow a midomi-type search to not just find out about a song by humming it, but also pop up the lyrics (without a thousand ads, intentional mistakes, etc.) and links to actually download them (and I don't mean iTunes), index every leaked document (credit cards, medical records, etc.) and so forth and so on.

Basically, everything a lot of people take issue with for perfectly good reasons, but secretly wouldn't mind having at their fingertips, themselves.

Re:Before that... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#36980034)

In fact, Google has integrated voice recognition for normal searches, at least in Chrom{e,ium}.

Re:Before that... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#36979652)

Maybe Search needs a Problem shake up. Innovation is great, but when I search now, more than ever, I quickly find what I am looking for.

I don't. The harder Google and co try to do 'smart' searching the more problems I have finding the things I'm searching for.

All I want it to do is actually, you know, search for the thing I entered in the search bar, and not try adding or removing 's', picking similar words, picking words that mean the same as the words I'm typing in.

Google's smart searching may be fine if you're looking for the latest Nataly Portmun hut grit pictures, but for technical queries with acronyms it's increasingly becoming a fscking disaster.

Re:Before that... (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#36979772)

All I want it to do is actually, you know, search for the thing I entered in the search bar, ....

Did you mean "starch bear"? Showing results for "starch bear"...

Re:Before that... (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 3 years ago | (#36979774)

You can fix the problem by putting a couple of " around each word, but that is a pain to do if you're experimenting with different search queries. Is there a better way to turn it off? A switch somewhere?

Re:Before that... (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 3 years ago | (#36980858)

This is entirely the problem. In order to be smart and usable, Google strips essentially all non-alphabetic characters, and -- increasingly I find -- completely ignores my requests to search for a literal string or phrase. Domain-specific searches (i.e., a search that can identify code, for example) is something that is not well implemented now. It's all general "search everything". It's difficult to find a specific usage of a specific function in a specific way, for example, as code samples often don't have the terms you'd use to describe what you're looking for. Searching for examples of using, say, sed can be difficult. I have to think there's a whole wealth of pages I don't see when I search for that type of thing simply because the content wasn't written with search-ability in mind. That is, the parts that describe the content as what I want are not present in the content.

The other problem is one of general ambiguity. Let's say I want to search for something called a "master record". Let's say that's all I really know about the topic. It's called a "master record". Now, you and I see that and we think: ok, possibly computers (databases, boot sectors), possibly historical records management (health, personnel), possibly music production (a master for an album). Search engines don't let us think that way, even though those are the questions you'd ask if someone came up to you and said "What's a 'master record'?" Why can't a search engine allow me to narrow the topic instead of just puking the most popular results? Why can't it take me to a disambiguation page such as those on Wikipedia? The more meanings a term has, the less likely it is I'm ever going to find what I'm looking for.

In general, I find that search engines work very well when I know what I'm looking for, but they're really quite awful when I'm looking for something I know very little about. In general, I want a search engine that actually knows the topics I'm talking about. Knows what I mean when I ask in a certain way, or knows what questions to ask when I ask it a question it thinks is ambiguous.

It's certainly not an easy task. Categorizing knowledge is very difficult, as separating content from navigation alone is quite difficult. Nevertheless, if it could be done it would vastly improve search. I suspect technologies like Watson are the way we'll end up going to realize this type of advance.

Re:Before that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36981140)

Then use the search exactly as is [google.com] operator "+". Searching for "+gogle" (without the quotes) will actually search for gogle without autocorrecting to google.

Re:Before that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36981848)

I usually do that anyway in case I enter an excluded or overloaded word.

Re:Before that... (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 3 years ago | (#36981412)

Yes, certain characters are unsearchable, even with quotes around the word. Wouldn't it be great if one could use escape characters to REALLY mean what you type, y'know what any decent parser would let you do.

Re:Before that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36982356)

Maybe Search needs a Problem shake up. Innovation is great, but when I search now, more than ever, I quickly find what I am looking for.

I don't. The harder Google and co try to do 'smart' searching the more problems I have finding the things I'm searching for.

All I want it to do is actually, you know, search for the thing I entered in the search bar, and not try adding or removing 's', picking similar words, picking words that mean the same as the words I'm typing in.

Google's smart searching may be fine if you're looking for the latest Nataly Portmun hut grit pictures, but for technical queries with acronyms it's increasingly becoming a fscking disaster.

There's actually a thing to help with that, but it's not perfect nor very handy; the + operator.

So search for +shlashdotted and you won't get a top result of Slashdot itself, search without the + and synonyms kick in and find the site.

He's right you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979424)

We'd better start googling for some new solutions.

Binspam (4, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#36979448)

Shenanigans!

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/decidecom-launches---helps-consumers-purchase-electronics-with-no-regrets-124179959.html [prnewswire.com]

"No other team has the technology, talent and experience in predictive systems to solve this problem," says Oren Etzioni, Decide co-founder and computer science professor at the University of Washington. "We've built the only broad-scale model lineage, text and data mining systems that predict future price and model releases to address this complex consumer problem."

The dude is just plugging his shopping-search engine, and astroturfing a computing conference as part of his marketing campaign.

What a cock.

Re:Binspam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979644)

this has nothing to do with search or... anything, really.

tinfail hat remove go

Re:Binspam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36981662)

Did you mean "What a crock"? Showing results for "What a crock"...

Re:Binspam (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 3 years ago | (#36982086)

U Dub is a leisure time subsidiary of MS. I'm surprised he was able to say this.

Re:Binspam (1)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#36982270)

The dude is just plugging his shopping-search engine

Which doesn't even work. I put "iphone", "xbox", and "cars" into the search box, and it found no matches.

They also have one of the most overreaching EULAs for their site I've seen in a while.

Hey, you, over there (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 3 years ago | (#36979466)

Innovate. That's an order.

perhaps it's the threat of lawsuits (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | about 3 years ago | (#36979474)

Perhaps the lack of creativity and ambition is from the threat of lawsuits....patents, trademarks, and copyright.

Re:perhaps it's the threat of lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980640)

Or perhaps it's not, I honestly have no idea. I just felt like compulsively throwing something in there about patents, trademarks, and copyright.

Googles long soldout (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979494)

Google; left useless menu, result page right and top ads, corrupted results(ads), auto-complete, g. instant, etc.. yuk.. It's about as bad as it can get... Alternatives needed, like webcrawler in the mid 90's or google in 2000. Ad free good results no bloat.. Thats a START.

Re:Googles long soldout (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 3 years ago | (#36979904)

There are ads on Google's pages? Can't say I noticed since I use ad blockers.

Re:Googles long soldout (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 3 years ago | (#36980102)

How does it pay for itself? Business model? Ads are a proven revenue stream for search. Do you have an alternate?

Nobody will license the tech, Lucerne, etc already give you local site search.

You could do a paywall. Could work but wouldn't compete with Google directly, "free" would still dominate the public space. Otoh you could be sustaining if storage and hardware are cheap, scale somewhat with traffic and of course bandwidth and power use would scale just fine (as long as results don't need to be too current).

Any real shakeup would need too much human input (1)

quixote9 (999874) | about 3 years ago | (#36979618)

All the search engines now generally available use tag-based methods. Among librarians -- who are the real professionals at information searches -- that's a method for quick superficial results.

Promoting deeper research and understanding is best done with subject-based methods. E.g. the way libraries are organized, Library of Congress cataloguing system, etc.

Problem is, AI is nowhere near good enough to do that yet. So you need to hire humans, lots of humans, to actually think about the information. Which is way too expensive.

Another tag-based search engine, even if it's Etzioni's own, is just one more look-alike in the crowd.

Re:Any real shakeup would need too much human inpu (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#36980186)

"Promoting deeper research and understanding is best done with subject-based methods. E.g. the way libraries are organized, Library of Congress cataloguing system, etc.

Problem is, AI is nowhere near good enough to do that yet. So you need to hire humans, lots of humans, to actually think about the information. "

This is not true. Automatic document-topic induction techniques (look up Latent Dirichlet Allocation, for example) are fairly sophisticated these days. It's not strong AI, but it does human-useful soft-clustering from text alone in a way quite useful for search. Roughly it attempts to figure out the intrinsic subject(s) of your search.

It means that you can search for documents using keywords A,B,C and it can return documents which have none of those words and yet are likely to be related because they share many words with the set of documents which tend to have A,B,C frequently. A search engine can also remember recent searches in a session whose desired topics are likely to be correlated.

All the search companies use close to state of the art versions of these methods.

(Google is finding that good weak AI combined with Big Data can do remarkable things --- statistical language translation is much better than I expected, and that's substantially harder than document clustering).

He is right (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 3 years ago | (#36979638)

Web search has stagnated badly. Or rather it has regressed actually. The databases are getting larger, but the search possibilities are significantly worse than they were in the past. For example, AltaVista had a "near" keyword that could be used to specify that two search terms need to be within 40 words of each other. It also had full boolean logic. What Google offers is pathetic in comparison and is a massive step backwards. Especially with the far larger number of web-pages today, I find myself regularly wading through pages and pages of irrelevant results. (Yes, I am using all that Google offers in semantics, thank you.)

I know this is due to Googles technical architecture. But that itself is outdated. They could do AltaVista (classic) like search. Instead they basically have the same design as 10 years ago and PageRank now fails regularly to performm not that it was that good before. Maybe this is also because Google has very low incentives to do better, as they are a) King of the hill and b) make their money with advertising, i.e. as long as they are noticeably better than the competition, they are fine. And other seem to have trouble reaching even the (relatively low) quality of Google search results.

Truly a sad state of affairs.

Re:He is right (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 3 years ago | (#36980198)

The degradation is because of the creation of sophisticated site spam designed by clever and hostile parties.

Google's algorithms today on 1999's web would be exceptionally good.

Re:He is right (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 3 years ago | (#36980256)

I expect not that good either. And the comparison is nonsense anyways, as their present algorithm is tuned to todays web. And, no, I am not wading through heaps of useless "SPAM" results on many queries, it is just irrelevant results because it is very and requires several tries to write a query specific enough.

  Took me years to move over to Google and the only reason was that the database of AltaVista was getting too small. The results were always very sub-standard.

Re:He is right (1)

alexcpn (2028962) | about 3 years ago | (#36981566)

The whole idea of search is that you search when you have no idea where to find something; A more semantic web will enable lesser emphasis on searching;Out of the millions of web sites out there, I guess it is really a handful that is commonly used.This was what I thought first; anything over hyped gives me a negative feeling. Especially over such a basic as search; What more can one expect. But I guess the truth is that keyword search is here to stay forever and is pretty valuable;Especially in the medical field, you search a medical term and other than the popular stuff the search can throw up what a veteran doctor who thinks otherwise in some corner of the world has noted down in an obscure blog. Such information is priceless.Yes internet has become more an internet of chatter and media storage hub;But information too is present and keywords are the only tag that can collate these.I would not care about voice if I am able to type.The wolfarmalpha model might be intelligent, but it takes time and maybe a human can do the job better...

Maybe he could (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979706)

find a way to innovate UW FTP?

Relating "unrelated" information (1)

KalvinB (205500) | about 3 years ago | (#36979838)

Google is doing an outstanding job getting information collected. But at the end of the day it's just a "dumb" search that matches keywords with content trying to hide results that are just junk. Google is all about quantity of information with some basic garbage filters. There is no real relational information being gathered between content sources.

The next step in search should be to start analyzing information based on themes and returning results that may not have the same keywords, but are related in themes. Also, ranking results by reading level, length, etc would probably go a long way to getting rid of junk and help in research. Real text analysis. That would help meaningful content get to the top of results.

Re:Relating "unrelated" information (1)

russotto (537200) | about 3 years ago | (#36980064)

Also, ranking results by reading level, length, etc would probably go a long way to getting rid of junk and help in research. Real text analysis. That would help meaningful content get to the top of results.

Go to Google advanced search, and you can choose to annotate by reading level.

there is room (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36979846)

I've been steadily using Blekko more and more as an alternative to Google. Its back to simple, with the addition of slashtags to refine searching. The complete banning of content farms caught my attention. its still not ideal but it is growing.

Just another faculty member... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#36979888)

... who's hoping to monetize his public-funded research and make even more money for himself.

Seriously, have any decent and successful academic search engines NOT been sold off to the highest bidder? I remember Metacrawler came out of UW as well - it became popular and was "commercialized". As was WebCrawler, for that matter. And we all know about Google, of course - those Stanford guys did pretty well for themselves...

Re:Just another faculty member... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980328)

This is actually the same professor who did MetaCrawler
http://www.infospaceinc.com/consumerprod/wsb_metacrawler.aspx

and Farecast
http://blog.seattlepi.com/venture/2008/04/14/farecasts-sale-and-etzionis-no-comment/

Viva Gopher Space! (1)

oldstrat (87076) | about 3 years ago | (#36980128)

Viva Gopher Space!

Cuil anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980132)

Cuil aka The Next Google Killer aka BIG FAIL

dufus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980178)

If you can't do, teach, then call for others to do.

DuckDuckGo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36980332)

Go DDG!
http://ddg.gg

Didn't take long... (1)

bylo (1211278) | about 3 years ago | (#36980474)

Science fair gold medalist, 17, invents better way to search Internet [theglobeandmail.com]

Watch out, Google: When it comes to Internet search, there's a new competitor in town.

Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Schiefer has found a better way to search small documents, such as tweets and Facebook statuses - all for his Grade 11 science fair project.

The Pickering resident created an algorithm to filter through, and find relevant information. Created using linear algebra and discrete math, his algorithm is named "Apodora" after a python species with extraordinary search capabilities.

Not only did Mr. Schiefer win a gold medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, but he also earned the attention of students who dubbed him the "next Mark Zuckerberg," said science and mathematics teacher Nina Dolgovykh.

Link to the actual paper (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36980766)

You can find the actual paper online [nature.com] if you'd like. Being as it is through Nature, and he is not writing it as part of an NIH-sponsored project, the paper is behind a paywall.

Fortunately it is in the main Nature journal, which is possibly the most subscribed-to journal in science; hence if you don't work for a place that subscribes, you can probably get it at your local library.

And no that is not an endorsement of putting academic research papers behind paywalls.

Then do something about it (1)

hoppo (254995) | about 3 years ago | (#36980794)

There is no shortage of software products many of us use online that are rooted in university CS projects. Instead of a generic call to arms, perhaps this CS professor could do something about it. He has the means and the resources at his disposal, after all.

Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36981058)

Oren Etzioni Thursday will have a commentary

You have quite an unusual name, Mr. Thursday.

SEO? (1)

Rizimar (1986164) | about 3 years ago | (#36981302)

The main obstacle to progress 'seems to be a curious lack of ambition and imagination,' Etzioni writes in the piece, which he acknowledges 'is meant to be provocative.'

Yeah, but if I started coming up with content that Google couldn't read, it'd be bad for SEO. My rankings would drop and nobody would come and click on my AdSense ads!

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