The Noisy Channel


Taking the Google Wonder Wheel for a Spin

March 25th, 2009 · 10 Comments · General

I tried out the Google Wonder Wheel today–it’s being rolled out as an experiment, but you can enable the cookie yourself by entering the following into the address bar after a Google query:


As I blogged yesterday, I’m glad that Google is giving exploratory / HCIR approaches a shot. But I’m shocked at how far behind they seem to be, especially given the incredible talent of Google employees.

In fact, the Wonder Wheel reminds me of work AltaVista did over a decade ago, close to heart because of related work I did at IBM Research. I’d be more impressed if the related topics were of higher quality, but they seem to be lagging far behind the state of the art. Which makes it all the more understandable that they don’t promote such features to users.

I’d like to get more excited about such efforts, but I fear that they are being set up to fail and will be used as evidence against HCIR in general. I hope at least that more informed technologists recognize these efforts as less than representative of what can be done using richer interface metaphors, and will keep working on improving the tools to support information seeking.

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James Richardson // Mar 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Hey guys, had heaps of trouble trying to work out how to get this working myself, finally got there, here’s a step by step guide:

  • 2 Daniel Tunkelang // Mar 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    James, thanks for the detailed instructions–sorry if mine were a bit terse. In any case, I’m with you up to the “awe and coolness” part. 🙂

  • 3 Tester // Apr 1, 2009 at 7:35 am

    What a total piece of Bull shit. Copy pasting the javascript into the adreessbar DOESN’T work. Nothing is enabled. Total lie. Crap.

  • 4 Daniel Tunkelang // Apr 1, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Sorry it didn’t work for you; worked just fine for me. That is to say, pasting the JavaScript worked; the feature itself was a bit underwhelming.

  • 5 Christian Rodriguez // May 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    A little syntactic correction: you don’t paste the javascript after the URL – you replace the url in the address bar with the javascript.

    The article text is ambiguous in that respect.

    Then click on “Show Options” and Wonder Wheel is on the left bottom.

  • 6 Daniel Tunkelang // May 12, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Sorry about that. In any case, it sounds like Google is planning to roll out some more of its experimental functionality.

  • 7 Is Google Diving Head First Into HCIR? | The Noisy Channel // May 12, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    […] they’d already rolled out, and that I personally didn’t find overwhelming (see here and here). Still, I’m pleased that their marketing language is embracing HCIR–that’s a big […]

  • 8 Matthew James Taylor // May 13, 2009 at 1:59 am

    This is similar in a lot of ways to the old Vivisimo search engine (now Clusty)

    I think the Clusty interface is better actually! It’s a lot more compact than a visual wheel.

  • 9 Google wonder wheel // May 28, 2009 at 6:38 am

    The best Google tool in the last few months!

  • 10 Max L. Wilson - Max's Blog // Oct 17, 2009 at 4:09 am

    […] Daniel Tunkelang has brought my attention to another blog entry about some of the tests that Google is carrying out at the moment. As well as letting you view timelines, and a ‘wonder wheel’ of connections, the options it lets you test include adding thumbnails to each search result (something that has been doing for a while) and also allowing you to see more than 2 lines of text per result. […]

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