Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lady GaGa trumps Ladybugs

By now I expect that most Internet users have heard or tried Google's new instant search capability. (If you haven't, do a Google search using Chrome, Mozilla or most other web browsers). When you do a search, Google predicts what your query will be as you are typing and shows results immediately. As you type each successive letter in the search box, new results appear. Google feels that this helps to speed up the search process, giving people the results they want in half the time it took in the past. In theory this should mean that people will have to spend less time searching and thus can spend more time digesting the information that they are trying to find.

Or will it? When I first tried the new instant search, I found I was looking at the results as they popped up on the screen, with can be a bit distracting. It can also lead to a lot of meandering, as your focus can be lost as you get diverted to new web content. My first test was intended to see how instant search performed when I typed in the search term "ladybugs". When I typed "l" there immediately popped up pages on Loews stores. When I next typed "a" up popped pages for Lands' End stores. No problem, these were not what I was looking for and they were not distracting. But when I next typed in "d" photos and entries for Lady Gaga appeared -- and I veered off course! I had heard about Lady Gaga, but being in my 60s I really knew nothing about her and when she suddenly was thrust into my field of view I was diverted into clicking on some of the pages that appeared and I quickly learned all I wanted to know about her. But this was after I had used up much more time than I had saved with Google's new innovation.
Back on track after my trip into Gaga land, I typed in "y" and delighted to find that the first references to appear were all for ladybugs. (Even better was the appearance of the LadyBug Shop entry in first place!) So I can agree with Google that their instant search saved me the time of typing the rest of my initial search term "ladybugs" before getting relevant results. (Note, however, that with a traditional Google search the first result you get when you type in "ladybugs" is the Wikipedia entry for Coccinellidae, the scientific name for the family of beetles commonly called ladybugs. As is usually the case, Wikipedia is a great starting place to learn about almost anything.)
My conclusion is that Google's new instant search is a useful feature, but if you really want to save time, you have to concentrate and avoid being diverted into wandering into the many fascinating side streets available on the World Wide Web.

If you are a ladybug fan and want something to go "ga-ga" about, take a look a this cute new Ladybug Costume.

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