Douwe Osinga's Blog: Google holes

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Steven Berlin writes an interesting piece in Slate about the holes in Google. He sees three:

  1. Shopping pages score above average

  2. Synonyms fill the top, driving out other meanings of a word

  3. Google drives us away from book knowledge

I think the first two are rather debatable, that is, it depends on what you want to find. Maybe a lot of people search the web to buy something and if one meaning of a word is that much more popular than an other, then that meaning should dominate.

The third point is a good one. A lot of humanities knowledge is still stored in the form of books and if we make Google our king of knowledge, we'll start ignoring this knowledge. However, another Internet powerhouse, Amazon, might rescue us. On the long run it would probably be worth it for them to scan and index the most popular books, thus allowing us to search the contents of books like we search web pages now. Of course you would have to buy the book to actually get to the content, otherwise this wouldn't make sense for Amazon (or they might show you the page they found the term on).