TITLE: Google Fun and Future
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: December 16, 2004 2:34 PM
DESC: Google gives us lots of toys, but these toys are the exploration vehicles that will help the company grow -- and expand the horizon of users.
I added "google" to my OS X spell-checker's dictionary
yesterday morning. I'm surprised that it's taken me
this long. I'm also reminded of a couple of cool
I've been playing with of late.
To be honest, I'm not sure how much I'll use these
services after my initial playing phase. I've never
been a big fan auto-completion, except when I request
it explicitly through, say, emacs's tab key.
I've read that the dynamic HTML implementation beneath
the hood of Suggest is a valuable attempt to extend the
diversity and quality of web app interfaces, but that's
outside my domain of expertise.
Indeed, I'm not certain that these particular services
will be the ultimate wins that arise from the techniques
used. For example,
Joel Spolsky says
this about Google Suggest:
does auto-completion as you type your queries, based
on the popularity of possible continuations. In my
I tried my name and was disappointed by how many
characters it took for my name to be the top choice:
"eugene walli" -- and by that point I am the only
- Straight from Google Labs,
is a very cool idea, though Google has made it
available since mid-2002. You type the names
of one or more related items, and Google uses
its database to offer you other members of the
set it induces from yours.
Their on-line sample shows Sets finding the names
of many automobile manufacturers from an initial
set of three. Of course, the quality of the sets
it can find depends on the existence of web pages
containing your terms with rich connections to one
another. For example, when I typed in the names
of several chess players, including "Bobby Fischer",
which gives nearly 800,000 matches, Google couldn't
find a set for me.
It's important not for searching, but because it's going
to teach web users to expect highly responsive user
My thoughts about the things you find at
were focused more on Google and its vitality as a leading
corporation. The idea is that Google can use its massive
databases and computing power to gain leverage beyond
traditional web search.
I'm not much of a visionary when it comes to predicting what
emerging goods, services, and technologies will win big in
the future. If I were, I could do better than a professor's
salary! But services like Suggest and Sets and
are innovative ways for Google to explore the horizon
of the services its offers, and ultimately to push the
boundaries of its technology -- and the boundaries of what
we can do as users.