I predict a riot…

Google’s Predictive Search

Google’s predictive search mechanism has, in turn, helped, amused and shocked users with seemingly appropriate search results

Google

In 2010 search engine giant Google, introduced a new feature, Google Instant, that was heralded as a newer, faster and more efficient method of searching the web. The mechanism operates by assuming or suggesting search options of what a user might be looking for on the web. As users begin to type their queries in to the search box, Google Instant provides potential matches in a move to save the user time by bypassing the search button.

According to research carried out by Google, users spend on average 9 seconds entering a search query in to Google. After selecting the search button, the query spends an average of 300 milliseconds trawling through Google’s servers before returning results to the user, who will spend an average of 15 seconds deciding over which of the selections to choose. Although that is almost half a minute from time of entry to result generation, it leaves us scratching our heads on whether users are really that pushed for time that an extra few seconds is inadmissible. Do they care, moreover do they even notice? We put this very question to 100 students, all confirmed Google users, on whether or not Google instant provides any added value to their use of the search engine.

Google Instant and I

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Surprisingly or not, 50% don’t know or don’t notice it. 30% find it a useful feature, while the remaining 20% either don’t use it or would go so far as to even call it a hindrance. Of those that did use it, and found it to be a help, the overwhelming majority did so when their searches were related to specific things or places, for example, searching for a famous artist or a particular museum. They added that searches for more abstract concepts meant that time saving wasn’t an issue as they’d often have to rephrase the search or spend more time looking at a selection of generated results. Of those that found the feature to be unhelpful , many commented that it was distracting and often times would generate irrelevant results.

Search at your peril

One of the best or rather funniest traits of real time Google instant are the sometimes bizarre or just rude suggestions.

Google funny

Some of our favourites….
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These potential hits are based on what others have previously searched for which begs the question….what kind of information are people really looking for?

The future as I already predicted it

Despite its humorous misgivings, Google is trailblazing the way in engineering user friendly technology. The future of web search or even more pertinently, predictive search is a gauntlet Google has taken on with much panache and aspiration. Future searches will be possible across  multiple platforms offering voice recognition, if this isn’t enough there is even talk of ‘preemptive delivery of information.’ In keeping with the Orwellian nightmare, the future of our web searches and subsequent results could be initiated and directed even without our explicit command.

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