The Noisy Channel


Google Is Sharpening Its Squares

October 9th, 2009 · 7 Comments · General

As some of you may remember, I’m excited about Google Squared, a project I see as a great first step toward exploratory search at a web scale. Yes, I know that Duck Duck Go, Kosmix and others are already taking on this challenge, but it makes a difference to see Google throw its weight behind such an ungoogley initiative. Plus Google Squared is ambitious, to say the least–the input is free-form text and the output is highly structured.

Since I’ve beaten up Wolfram Alpha for is overreliance on NLP, I can’t give Google a free pass. It would be nice to be able to give Google Square more structured guidance (yes, I’m still an HCIR fanatic). But Google Squared seems to achieve far more robust query interpretation than Wolfram Alpha’s–perhaps because supporting exploratory search is less brittle than question answering.

The quality of the tables that Google Square produces as results is still spotty, but it is a major improvement from the initial release. To those who wrote off Google Squared in June, I suggest you take a second look.

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Max L. Wilson // Oct 11, 2009 at 5:33 am

    i also just noticed (i dont know when it happened) that google has put the facets from its product search on the left hand side, rather than the bottom! interesting decision, given that last time i spoke to daniel russell he said that they’d decided bottom was best. it must be to be consistent with other search options.

  • 2 Max L. Wilson // Oct 11, 2009 at 5:34 am

    ps – i’d still like to be able to give google squared a website, like, and see it tabulate all its products.

  • 3 Daniel Tunkelang // Oct 11, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Max, I hadn’t noticed that–but it validates my skepticism about their previous design decision to put the facets at the bottom. As for pointing Google Squared at a web site to expose its facets, I think that’s a long way off. These guys claim to be able to do something like what you suggest, but I’m again quite skeptical.

  • 4 Nick @ Brick Marketing // Oct 12, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I think with Wave coming out projects like this are going to fall by the wayside. They just never got the ramp up they needed to really push in front of their audience.

  • 5 Daniel Tunkelang // Oct 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Nick, perhaps, though I hope not. As far as I know, the apps and search quality teams at Google don’t contend for resources, so I can’t see why one project should be at the expense of the other.

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