One of the things that's understood but rarely said about the Internet is that most of it, by volume, is made of naked people, many of them engaged in a whole galaxy of exotic sex acts. There's porn for everything and everyone, no matter what weird stuff you're interested in. And while porn is a big business on its own, the way it dominates Internet search traffic means that web sites that have nothing to do with porn may still benefit from the erotic quality of the Internet at large.
Given the ubiquity of Google, it's hard to imagine a time when users couldn't just mosey over to the minimalist search engine and find everything they need. Or, for that matter, rely on any of the dozens of products -- like Google Maps -- that seem to make everyday life possible. This retrospective released today by Google recounts the humble origins of the search engine, and the process by which it became the pillar of the modern Internet. All that, in only six minutes.
Scraper sites, sites that copy content from other sites, have been a thorn in Google's side for a while now. These sites use their lifted content to either rake in advertising dollars, or artificially increase their ranking on search engine results. For everyday web browsers like you and me, they are an impediment between us and the information we're trying to get to.
Google's most recent salvo in the war on scrapers comes from Matt Cutts, who put a call out through Twitter for more information on scraping websites. Cutts linked to the newly minted Report Scraper Pages form for users to fill out which he says will help give the search giant some much needed data on their enemy. The form is simple and hosted through Google Docs. Users who wish to report a scraping site have only to enter the URL of their search query, the URL of the site, and the URL of the site where the content originated from.
Google says that this information will be used to test upcoming changes to their search algorithms that will hopefully pull the wind of the scrapers' sails. That is, until they come up with some new tricks.
(Search Engine Land via Techmeme)
Researchers at Rice University have developed a system for remotely searching images stored on mobile devices. The goal of the software, called Theia, is to give searchers a near-realtime view of what is being photographed on with now-ubiquitous camera phones. It's like that bit in The Dark Knight where Batman turns every phone in Gotham into a sonar/microphone, except with pictures and it's for real.
Obviously, there are going to be some privacy concerns with something like this, but let's focus on why this information would be useful. The most dramatic example would be that of a lost or abducted child. With Theia, law enforcement could search cell phones the world over for the child, hoping to catch an image accidentally caught by someone's phone. The hope is that with the staggering number of camera-equipped cellphones in the world, someone will catch what you're looking for -- intentionally or not.
The system works through a server for addressing the searches and an app installed onto the phones.
Earlier this week, Googleannounced some new features to enhance its already ubiquitous search service. Users will soon be able to search by speech, byimage, and can take advantage of a new service called Instant Pages which aims to deliver pages faster than ever before.
While Google is already working to make the Internet faster with its fiber optic pilot program, Instant Pages could speed up your browsing experience without a fancy new connection. When engaged, users will have the top results from a Google search pre-load in the background. That way, the page appears to load instantly once you click on it. Obviously it's not actually faster, since the loading is just hidden from the user, but the psychological gain of having a page appear without waiting is quite large.
The most exciting facets of Google's announcement relate to new ways of searching.
Yesterday's news that the most notorious man of the 21st century had been killed struck a chord with millions of Americans. The younger folks seem to have been left out in the cold, though, as Yahoo! reported in a recent blog post.
According to their search statistics, searches for "Osama Bin Laden" went up 100,000% making him the most searched person on Monday. One quarter of those searches came from those under the age of 24. Younger users, ages 13-17, were responsible for 1 in 3 of the searches for "how did Osama Bin Laden die," and 40% of searches for "who killed Osama Bin Laden." Most surprising, however, was Yahoo!'s report that 66% of the people searching for the phrase "who is Osama Bin Laden?" were also in the 13-17. For reference, these pubescent users would have been born in 1994-1998, meaning that the oldest amongst them were in first grade during the 9/11 attacks.
While it's possible that they were simply too young to remember the attacks, and have -- as teenagers are wont to do -- ignored many of the news issues of the day, search traffic alone doesn't imply ignorance. They could have just as easily used the search term to learn more about the deceased leader of Al Qaeda. But, if you need to make a friend feel old and despair about the future, just share the above factoids with them.
(Yahoo! Search Blog via BoingBoing)
Google is currently holding a press conference to announce Google Instant, their new search feature that displays search results as you type. From the FAQ:
Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.
The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way.
Marissa Mayer: "It's not search 'as you type,' but 'search before you type.'" "We can predict what you are likely to type and give you those results in real time." (via RWW.)
Google claims that Instant will save many users 2-5 seconds per search, and, if used globally, will save humanity a collective 3.5 billion seconds per day. Personally, I find it a little distracting, though you can turn it off by visiting your Google Preferences page.
One purpose for which it does seem useful, however, is mobile search: Google says they will have this out later this fall.
Google will be rolling Instant out over the course of the next few days; if it's not already enabled for you on Google.com, you can hit this link to try it out. Thoughts?
(Google Instant FAQ.)
No more enter keys for you, mister. Quick thinking user Rob Ousbey made a quick video of a search function that Google is testing with some of its users: searches that update as you type.
Of course it only lasted for a limited amount of time, but TechCrunch has done the heavy lifting and confirmed with Google that is is something they are working on.