I had been guest lecturing at Stanford about searching, showing the CS students some of the down sides of free-text searching. ("fiber optics" v. "fibre optics"). Around that time I was chatting with the brother of one of the Google founders. He told me that his brother was working on a new search engine that would be better than anything ever seen before. I tried to argue that it would still be limited by the reality of the full-text search. I probably looked at Google when it was first made available, and I was pretty un-impressed. Just more keyword searching.
Today I use it constantly, but I'm very aware of the fact that it works quite well for nouns and proper nouns (people, companies, named things), and less well for concepts. It also greatly reflects the Internet culture, where python is a programming language, not a reptile, and ruby as a gem takes second place to ruby on rails. I think of it as a giant phone book for the Internet, not as a classification of knowledge.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
First encounter with Google
Siva Vaidhyanathan is asking for stories about peoples' first encounters with Google on his blog Googlization of Everything. I had a kind of pre-encounter with Google, and this is what I posted on his blog.