Thursday, May 14, 2009

All your eyeballs are belong to us

Yesterday I Posteroused (neologism, verb to) a story from The Guardian about Google's Searchology event. Just after I did so, a few people wandered into my office so I showed them the wonder of Google's new Show options display. I'm not sure they got it, so here's a ten second tutorial:

1. Perform a Google search for University of Leicester.
Click the Show options link. So far, so normal.


2. Click Wonder Wheel:


3. See what happens? Returned search data on the right, more stuff to play with on the left.


4.Click the back arrow until you get to the original search. Click Related Searches (and Timeline if you want. See what happens? You stay on the page.

5. Now repeat the process with your own name. Don't forget to click on Images from the page.

The fact that Google is prepared to "open the kimono" is a measure of how worried they are about the competition from Twitter (Wolfram Alpha? No, I don't think so). Twitter, not Microsoft or Yahoo, who are searchdead (it's a bit like being braindead, only worse). Apart from the semantic back end which powers this technology and the forthcoming Google Squared, "Show options" represents a major change of policy for Google search. By displaying the information on the returned page, Google stops being a directory and becomes a destination. Do no evil? We'll see...

So, you ask me (metaphorically), why should I care?
  1. If you're involved in education, 100% of your students use Google as a primary conduit to access information (just like you do). This changes they way they will interact with the information in subtle, and as yet unpredictable, ways.
  2. If you're involved in eLearning, you need to compete for students attention online. So does Google.