Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Units Of Knowledge: Google "Knols"

Google is creating an articles knowledge-base it calls "Knol". Google describes it here: Encouraging people to contribute knowledge.

I use the online encyclopedia Wikipedia quite frequently, and I find it very useful. Knol is planned to compete with Wikipedia by storing units of knowledge Google calls "knols".

Knol is in pre-release, so I cannot comment on its content. However, I will comment on Google's units of knowledge term "knol":

1. KNOL is the NASDAQ symbol for Knology, Inc an advanced broadband communications services provider. Why reuse a NASDAQ symbol in another context?

2. I suggest improving it by changing it to "knowl".

my original SETI research

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Smirnoff Cranberry Twist

The Executive Chef at Google provides a tasty gourmet Valentine's day recipe for preparing crab cakes.

In my opinion, it would be useful to add to the Google Search box a new recipes capability.

It would work like this: You enter the new recipe operator (recipe:) and name of a dish (e.g. Peach Cobbler), and Google search would instantly display a set of top recipes - without the need to drill-down.

Google search could also enable simple natural language recipe queries, such as these, to return a tasty set of results:

1. recipe for Smirnoff cranberry twist
2. what is the recipe for Chicago pizza
3. recipe Spanish olive crusted salmon

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Need For A Google Calculator Time Zone Capability

The Google search box can perform calculations and conversions involving math, units of measure, physical constants, and currency conversion.

A function that seems to be missing is the capability to convert times and dates between time zones.

Google does return your local time if you enter the keyword: "time", and it will also display localized time if, for example, you enter the search keywords: "time france".

However currently the following searches fail - they do not display times.

5:00 PM New York time in Rome
7:30 AM Paris is what time in Munich
10:00 PM Chicago in Geneva

In my opinion, Google calculator could be enhanced by including a simple time zone conversion function.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Google QA Testing: The Stroop Effect

The Google testing blog presents the following demo of the Stroop effect:

How quickly can you...
  1. Read all 25 words out loud: RED, GREEN, BLUE, ... (Try it now!)

  2. Say all 25 colors out loud: GREEN, YELLOW, WHITE... (Try it now!)
However, IMO for a more precise comparison both tasks should require either saying the label or saying the color.

The example provided by the Google testing blog obfuscates the Stroop effect with the quite probably different reaction times needed for the tasks of 1) reading labels and 2) converting color samples to their color names.

Another demo of the Stroop effect from Wikipedia is presented here:

Say the color of these words as fast as you can:

Green Red Blue
Yellow Blue Yellow

Blue Yellow Red
Green Yellow Green

According to the Stroop effect, the first set of colors would have had a faster reaction time.
Here's my original SETI research

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Google Suggest: Predictive Text Entry For Search Keywords

Search engine result pages (SERPs) can be improved by enhancing 1) the search engine, 2) the available data (i.e. what's free out there for spiders crawling the Web), and 3) user input. We know the impact of GIGO.
Google Suggest is a predictive text entry tool that is designed to improve user input by displaying real-time suggestions as a user types keywords.

Google Suggest serves suggestions that include the inputted string as a prefix. This makes all of its suggestions "narrowing", and excludes phrases that don't start with the prefix the user entered.

If you type "bicycle" in Google Suggest you get:

bicycle parts
bicycle victoria
bicycle trainer
bicycle magazine
bicycle tire
bicycle casino
bicycle trainers
bicycle chain
bicycle retailer
bicycle village

If you enter "bicycle" in the standard Google search box, at the bottom of the search results page you get a completely different set of suggestions.

Searches related to bicycle:

bicycle accessories
bicycle lyrics
cruiser bicycle
history of the bicycle
bicycle review
bicycle games
bicycle safety

It is unclear why these two Google features purporting to do the same task - provide related search keywords - generate different results. It seems they are using different algorithms.

To improve Google Suggest, it would have to incorporate expert systems that can analyze the terms a user types and offer knowledge-based suggestions.

An expert system could perform very well, working with detailed knowledge of the field in which the user wants to search.

Before these expert systems are developed, it may be a good idea to use a thesaurus database that can offer satisfying suggestions such as:

bicycle manufacturers
bicycle accessories
mountain bike
racing bike
BMX bike
Tour de France
Maillot Jaune
Floyd Landis

Google has focused on improving the Google search engine SERPs by creating cutting edge information retrieval algorithms.

Perhaps, to provide an effective and satisfying search experience substantial effort should be directed to designing software for enhancing user input.

my original SETI research