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The Answer.

November 19, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot about Google vs. the vendors who have been making lots of money selling us “search” for a while now. Someone brought up the idea that users like the simplicity of the Google front-end, and users also like the faceted searching, recommendations, and all of the other options provided by places like Amazon. The obvious response to me is “wait … what do they like?” … simplicity and a single search box, or all kinds of options for search? They don’t seem like the same thing to me …

The answer comes in the form of a simple quote: “It’s not about the searching, it’s about the finding”.

Sorry to be so obvious, but people like finding the information that they’re looking for no matter what engine is used to deliver that information. A remarkably simplistic, or even downright ugly page that gives me everything that I need will be my favourite site every time. Oddly, Google and Amazon do have a lot in common. Both utilize a huge database of user information to provide me with added value in my searching. Amazon provides me with basic string-matching initially, with the option to start drilling down through the social data if I wish. Google just goes right ahead and does the string-matching and combining with social data before I see a single result.

Of course, this is what I expect from these tools. Most of my Amazon visits are for things that I am already aware of. I may also check the social aspects of it’s search if that looks interesting. Google, on the other hand, is the tool of choice if connections are my primary interest … if I just type in “Merton science social” I want to have all of the relevance calculated and presented and then have “cited by” and “related” links. When the results are uncannily relevant, I am happy.

I like them both. I don’t care what they look like. The vendors make me work much harder for the same result.

That’s it.

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