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Google Unveils Search Options and Google Squared 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-the-useful-bits-please dept.
CWmike writes "Saying that its users are becoming increasingly sophisticated, Google has unveiled a list of new search technologies geared to help users 'slice and dice' their Google search results, along with a new tool to help them cull information instead of Web pages. Marissa Mayer, vice president of Google's Search Products, said of Search Options in a blog post, 'We have spent a lot of time looking at how we can better understand the wide range of information that's on the Web and quickly connect people to just the nuggets they need at that moment.' Google Squared, set to be released to users as part of its Google Labs program later this month, pulls up information from different sites and presents it in an organized manner."
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Google Unveils Search Options and Google Squared

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  • by FlyByPC (841016) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:39AM (#27938589) Homepage
    No thanks; wake me up when they come out with the "Google n*log(n)" version.
    • I remember around year 2000 there was am animated search engine that produced linked "bubbles" , with the diameter representing relevance. I guess it was Teoma (not sure). Anyone else remembers?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:59PM (#27939855)

      Don't worry, Google is already doing plenty of log'n.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:40AM (#27938599)

    Culling data and presenting context-aware results is something that Wolfram is working on too.

    Wolfram, a genuine genius, against a company full of above-average engineers. It's a tossup as to who came up with this idea first.

    • by Darundal (891860) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:47AM (#27938701) Journal
      Why do I care who came up with the idea first? I care about who does it best.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by thedonger (1317951)

        But it is not about who does it best, but about who markets it best. The Google brand is damn-near ubiquitous, and already encompasses the starting point (i.e., home page) of a large number of internet users. I wish Wolfram luck leaping that hurdle.

        • by tsalmark (1265778) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:02PM (#27939893) Homepage
          Best, and by a long shot, is how Google came to be damn-near ubiquitous.AltaVista (for search) and Yahoo (For directory) had the lions share of the market. Google was just another one of hundreds attempting to gain a foot hold in the market, until the first time you used it, then you never went back.
          • by thedonger (1317951) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:48PM (#27940629)

            The lack of maturity of the internet allowed Google to offer a better product, virtually sans marketing, and take over. I don't think that can or will happen the same way again. Not in the search market, anyway.

            The internet still offers the unique ability for something to go viral and spread like herpes in a co-ed frat, but as time goes on the list will dwindle down to rumors (pop rocks and pepsi!) and worms (conficker, et al).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by anaesthetica (596507)
      I hope Google is not discussing Google Squared as part of a (typically Microsoft) strategy of announcing a competitive to-be-released-soon! service simply to deter users from switching to a rival with an actual shipping product.
      • by LUH 3418 (1429407) <maximechevalierb ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:44PM (#27939647)
        I would think they're pretty serious about this. Google pours alot of R&D money into improving its search engine. In their mind, I believe this represents another step closer to one day having a search engine that can truely understand questions asked by users, which really, is the ultimate goal for any search engine.

        It seems obvious that for them to publicize this now is a response to Wolfram Alpha, but clearly, Google wants to keep is technological edge over the competition. Now, what will be interesting to see is how much people care about these new search options, and whether or not someone buys Wolfram Alpha.
    • Google's been doing very limited versions of this kind of search for quite some kind (one of the examples usually given for the kind of thing Alpha is good for the Google supposedly isn't is looking up the GDP of a country, which is a clear sign that whoever is giving the example has never done a query in Google for the GDP of a country, which is a question that Google will usually be able to answer directly with a link to the site from which it has culled that information), and its something they've been v

    • "It's a tossup as to who came up with this idea first."

      Probably just some unknown average person with an interesting idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597)

      Google has presented limited context-aware results for years if you request them, e.g. search for "define: word" or "185 usd in euros".

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      a company full of above-average engineers

      I'm trying to think of another free service that I get so much value from every single day of my life.

      I have a very hard time trying to work up any resentment toward Google, given the way they've transformed the landscape of the Internet, even to the point where their name has become synonymous with the act of searching for something. Generally, when someone gives me a whole bunch of really useful services for free, my first reaction is one of gratitude rather than r

  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:46AM (#27938691)
    I wish Google had the ability to search for regular expressions and exact word matching. Searching for exact words or things that contain other symbols than letters is unfortunately very hard with Google and so sometimes it's useless in situations where it could have been so powerful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MosesJones (55544)

      Full Regexp would be very hard but Google does have basic abilities to do exact matching and conditional matching. Just hit the "advanced [google.co.uk]" button.

      Hardly something that is tough to find out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lord Lode (1290856)
        Those options are not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for exact symbol search in strings like "C#" or "x = y * 2", and also, case sensitive search. Sometimes one needs to find identifiers on the internet (and not just in google code search).
        • by psydeshow (154300)

          Those options are not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for exact symbol search in strings like "C#" or "x = y * 2", and also, case sensitive search. Sometimes one needs to find identifiers on the internet (and not just in google code search).

          Exactly.

          If you've never tried to learn more about A* using Google, then don't bother posting about how Advanced Search is your friend. It isn't. Go try it.

    • by Spy Hunter (317220) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:09PM (#27939029) Journal

      Google Code search [google.com] supports regular expressions, so it's possible with a smaller index at least.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      I wish Google had the ability to search for regular expressions and exact word matching. Searching for exact words or things that contain other symbols than letters is unfortunately very hard with Google and so sometimes it's useless in situations where it could have been so powerful.

      Search options may finally make Google the best search engine on the internet. The Algorithm has never impressed me very much, but getting some of the these options that I used in Lexis Nexis since the mid 90s into a web search would definitely make me switch search sites. I'd particularly like to be able to search for a word within N words of another word, and to be able to specify which word comes first, or give multiple combinations or variations on each word. When I want to find opinions on a TV show

      • Your post makes me wonder why Google hasn't gotten some sort of bulk reseller license for Lexis Nexis. It seems like if you could purchase one-off batch requests (i.e. execute them overnight when the cost is lower) using Google Check-Out, it could be a boon for Google and L/N.
    • They do...in their own way...you have to learn the goggle syntax, but there is one...look up google hacking in google, and you will see a lot of johnny links!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rho (6063)

      I wish Google would stop serving me AdSense-laden link-farm pages at the top of my search results.

      I'd rather pay Lexis-Nexis a couple hundred bucks a year than fritter away my life tweaking search queries.

    • by Nick Ives (317)

      I think full regular expression support is a very bad thing to expose to the general public even if you have the computing power of Google: it'd be a recipe for a DoS attack.

      Whilst you could safeguard against simple regex that are designed to consume massive amounts of CPU without actually matching anything (worthwhile) for anything non-trivial the only way to find out if it's going to eat up lots of CPU or what it's going to match is to execute it.

      Better symbol matching and proper literal string matches wo

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eulernet (1132389)

      Huh ? Google Search supports * since a few months.

      Try a search without * and with, and you'll get different results.
      For example:
      http://www.google.com/search?q=slash [google.com]

      which returns slash as first hit.

      and:
      http://www.google.com/search?q=slash* [google.com]

      this one returns slashdot.

  • by thedonger (1317951) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:46AM (#27938695)
    from TFA:

    "These features really explore search from a broad and entirely new perspective," said Mayer. "Because we realize that when you can't quickly find just the exact information or content you need or want, it's our problem, not yours."

    This is an interesting take on the process of searching. In the past I thought good searching required training or insight, but this line of thinking - putting the onus on the search provider - is bold and interesting.

    Will Google offer the traditional "colander with wires attached" USB device to read our minds and ignore what we type into the search box? If so, it better be free or people will complain.

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:32PM (#27939417)

      In the past I thought good searching required training or insight, but this line of thinking - putting the onus on the search provider - is bold and interesting.

      It's the right attitude for the service-provider to take, assuming they are trying to make a good product.

      But, this doesn't release the user from learning how to search properly, assuming they are trying to get something useful out of the experience.

      A user-interface designer (or product designer in general) should always be thinking about how users will naturally interact with the product/service, and should make it as fast, painless, and obvious as possible. From Google's point of view, the objective should indeed be to make a search that, as much as possible, correctly guesses what the user was trying to find, and returns that data. The more they are able to do so, the better the user experience will be.

      But, of course, this doesn't mean that users shouldn't learn how to properly use the product as it currently exists, or how to search in general. The better they understand it, the more useful it will be to them.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:47AM (#27938699)

    ... would be the most important in my opinion of "user sophistication", a lot of times google will pull a lot of sites quite frankly should be able to be punished by users by users beign able to filter them out of their search results.

    That might cause google to pause (ad revenue) but personally there's a lot of google manipulation and I'd love it if users could simply FILTER their results but NOT be able to change them and then let google study which sites are blocked or not to get an idea of how clueles (cluefull) their userbase is

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:53AM (#27938793)

      a lot of times google will pull a lot of sites quite frankly should be able to be punished by users by users beign able to filter them out of their search results.

      That's a current feature [google.com] of Google search. Don't want results from slashdot.org or any subdomains in your results? include -site:slashdot.org in your query string.

      It would be nice if, e.g., Wonder Wheel kept site restrictions (positive or negative) when you used it to pull up a related search.

      • But that's the point is the query string is not user friendly, have a permanet user friendly feature where you add sites to a list, etc. When doing searches.

        I'd like to see the stats on how many people use google commands, probably not that many.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:59PM (#27939869)

        When logged in at least, it'd be nice if I could accumulate a personal blocklist that's blocked on all my searches. In some areas I keep ended up rediscovering the same SEO'd crap sites, and I'd like to just cut them out of my results for good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lars Arvestad (5049)
        That is useful if a single site is the problem, but how do I say "I do not want results from any price comparison site"? This is a problem I see more and more of: searching for a product can bring up pages of more or less lame price comparison sites before meaning ful sites. The actual producer of the product you are looking for is surprisingly often way down in my listings.
    • by patro (104336)

      ... would be the most important in my opinion of "user sophistication", a lot of times google will pull a lot of sites quite frankly should be able to be punished by users by users beign able to filter them out of their search results.

      Isn't Search Wiki [blogspot.com] what you're looking for?

  • Too specific (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:49AM (#27938733) Homepage Journal

    Has anyone else noticed google's search results are a little too focused, or personalized? I am finding that useful search results that I had clicked on that were only tangenially related no longer come up when I search under the identical terms a second time. While this is good in most cases, I'd like a way to switch off this "focused laser" approach and open up my results more broadly without having to dig past the first 10 pages of results. I feel like google is so specific that I either find my result in the first three results or not at all these days. I feel like I am missing out on the wonders of finding cool stuff that you didn't know existed, since the results are too good and almost never off topic.

    • Re:Too specific (Score:4, Informative)

      by TimeTraveler1884 (832874) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:14PM (#27939109)
      Good news! You can easily switch this feature off: In Firefox press Ctrl+Shift+Del, select "Cookies" and click "Clear Private Data Now"
      • Yeah. And use all your useful cookies too. Of dozens of forums (including Slashdot), and tons of other stuff. No thanks.
        If it were selective, then maybe. But this is just plain useless and stupid.

        • It is very easy to go in and delete individual cookies too - you can even filter the list of cookies to pick from by part or all of the web-site's name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Well, it seems that if you are from Germany, you can configure and go to .com all you want, you will always get German search results preferred. Which is not what I want. Especially for forum searches on computer questions. The answers in those forums always seem to be extremely retarded. Then you go over to some international/english forum, and it's like a fresh breeze of reason. No offense... but that is my experience.

      In German forums, people will lead you on a totally stupid wrong track, and then go back

    • by evanbd (210358)

      I'd actually like to be able to tune it. When I first search something, I'd like to see a variety of things. Frequently there are things in the search that are relevant to the search terms, but not the context I was thinking of. I'd like to be able to say "repeat the search, but I want to see more items like this one and fewer like that one." Frequently I find myself redoing the search manually, trying to think up terms to add or prohibit to get a better list. Somehow I suspect that if I just picked on


    • Steps to reproduce:
      1. Search for: 5+5=?
      2. Click sumbit

      Actual result:
      Google returns 5+5=10.

      Expected result:
      Google provides an array of answers so that, while I could find the answer I'm looking for with a little effort, but I still have to work for it.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        What? No, as in, I searched for homemade sailboats and a page about the history of sailing canoes in southern england from 1920-1939 pops up with all sorts of images of hand drawn illustrations from out of print books. Two years later I do the same search to find the page again and share it with my friend and no amount of either variations of the original search nor searches specified about sailing canoes from that era and/or region will bring up the result because it hasn't been linked to in at least 60 da

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      See, that's why you've got to mix it up with non-porn sites. Ding-ding-ding, use your brain.
    • by British (51765)

      I'm still finding those search engine result spammers are still getting to the top of the results list, where going to their website shows absolutely nothing useful. Type in ANY search term, and you get a specific website that has apparently entrenched itself in every google search result. Trying to search for a song by an artist will always bring up that freemp3.com result, and that site has zero use whatsoever.

  • Google has unveiled a list of new search technologies geared to help users 'slice and dice' their Google search results

    Sounds like Googol the Destroyer [slashdot.org] is getting creative by adding physical violence to the mix of data devouring.

    Don't forget to tune into next week's episode, wherein the reader discovers how Gatus and Joba are faring with their plans, what Stallmanx has been working on in his secret laboratory, and a clue to help unravel the mystery of that which lies within his Beard of Druidic Prowess!

  • Quick Pr0n (Score:4, Funny)

    by ironicsky (569792) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:51AM (#27938759) Journal

    Google is just giving us an easier way to find pr0n on the tubes.
    Is setting my "safe search" to off and will see you in the morning.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:36PM (#27939483)

      Hmm... I wonder if there is a way to search for "unsafe" pictures only. Maybe some internal option or hack?

      Please, please, please... if you're from Google: Add this option in a hidden way, and then "leak" the information to us. You can always just change the way it's used, and then apologize for that little bug. And then leak the new way too. So that we still have access. Whoops. ^^

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      You probably want to google "Repetitive Strain Injury" too... chances are you will be needing that information by morning.
  • by Jeez01 (1442147) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:51AM (#27938767)
    lets say you want to research Bulls-Pistons series in 1988 and you decide to use a squared which effectively parses and gets the data you want from Basketball-reference or one of those. Those sites will not get any page hits...
    • by abigsmurf (919188) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:57AM (#27938853)

      Ah but you see, you're free to put it in the robots.txt if you don't want information pulled straight out of your site without people visiting. Of course that will remove it from the Google index and result in a massive descrease in traffic as the vast majority of people only use google for searching...

      Google, abuse a dominant market position? But their moto is "do no evil"! They would never do something like that!

      • I guess we need a noculling.txt ... Google is playing by the rules. Work on changing the rule if you don't like it. I know lots of site owners that would be happy to have Google cull their information. So long as their was appropriate credit given to sources. Its not like they are draining your bandwidth. So NOT doing this for the sake of some people who might not want it but put their info up freely on the net and allow for robots seems kind of stupid.
    • "Content owners" don't own facts, which are not subject to copyright. So, insofar as content owners are deriving income by leveraging that position to act as if they were "fact owners", that revenue may be at risk.

      OTOH, if its like existing mechanisms Google uses to present information culled from other sources, it will link to the sources, and if users want to get more information from that source specifically, they will be free to click through and explore the source, so it may serve as a kind of free adv

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        It is not "culling" information from anywhere. Cull is to selectively collect, where the culled do not form part of the desired results. You and the summary are using the word in precisely the opposite fashion to its meaning.
  • Future of Search (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:03PM (#27938947)

    The future of search relies upon better parameters for the search.

    Almost all searches are time-sensitive, but some are more time sensitive than others. When I'm looking for information about a piece of software the forum post from five years ago may or may not be relevant.

    When I'm looking for information about the thinnest watch to buy, reading about a watch made over 30 years ago isn't appropriate.

    Context is the big problem in search. The time sensitivity is one context. Product attributes is another. You can't (with the partial exception of Newegg and similar searches) search item properties in most cases. If you're buying a set of headphones not all headphones list their specs nor in the same way. There are a lot of other products besides headphones.

    Sometimes the basic context is spot on, but it's still useless: a forum post of someone with the same question/problem I have, but it was never answered.

  • The biggest feature for me is searching by time frame/date. This way, I do not have to see decades of "rubbish" in my search results.

    Request:

    GMail: I would like to compose a message and have the option of having it delivered at a future date/time.

    Google Docs: Google should enrich its word processor to capabilities of Zoho Writer. How can Google allow Zoho to "beat" it on this front?

    That's all folks.

  • Can somebody tell me how to search for results that were indexed between a set of dates?

    Let's say I want to search for "Linux multitasking", but I only want to see magazine articles or blog posts or what have you between 2003 and 2005. How do I do that?

    I have tried [Linux multitask 2003..2005] but that doesn't really work. It gives me articles that have the year WITHIN the text, such as a 2007 article in which somebody discusses 2005. But not just articles that were posted between those years.

    That i
  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:20PM (#27939193)

    ...(perl-style) regular expressions? Or at least allowing to search for non-alphanumeric characters?

    Their search interface is a huge step backward from what old engines like HotBot offered.

  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:22PM (#27939235) Homepage

    Saying that its users are becoming increasingly sophisticated, Google has unveiled a list of new search technologies geared to help users 'slice and dice' their Google search results, along with a new tool to help them cull information instead of Web pages.

    (emphasis mine)

    And ten minutes after they release this for real, they get sued by thousands of websites claiming that they're circumventing their ad income or whatever by giving viewers an option to get the data without going to the website and thus not see the ads.

    I mean, that's what the AP's whining about, right?

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#27939613)
    Or does the image of Johnny 5 from the movie Short Circuit come to mind when thinking of Google?

    "Need more input!!!!!!"
  • In the olden times of Dejanews, I could search all the Usenet threads I posted in under all the accounts I ever used.
    For a while, Google groups also provided that functionality but eventually they broke it.

    Consider this artificial example:

    Search for 'author:mikea' -- Results 1 - 100 of about 313 for author:mikea.
    Search for 'author:mikeb' -- Results 1 - 100 of about 345 for author:mikeb.
    Search for 'author:mikea | author:mikeb' -- Results 1 - 100 of about 281 for author:mikea | author:mikeb.

    Pathetic.

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