Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robotic Pets And The Future Of Search

A Google R&D post describes an artificial pet project (PEPE) with goals of 1) creating a robotic pet, and 2) making consumer electronics, such as toasters and VCRs, easier to configure. 

I don't know if I want my toaster to bark at me. However, it would be nice when my refrigerator is low on food if it would say: Feed me I'm hungry!

Google search has one emotional component: the I'm Feeling Lucky! button.

Suggestion: On the Google search page add a drop-down filter users can select to return pages with emotional content. Here's a set of basic emotions:
  • lucky
  • happy
  • adventurous
  • romantic
  • creative
  • sociable
If a user searches for "vacation vermont" and applies the "adventurous" filter the results could return parachuting and cliff climbing. 

However, if the user searches for "vacation vermont" and applies the "romantic" filter the results could instead include spas and clubs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

An Ecological Perspective: Google Search

A Google R&D post describes the ecological perspective of Google search: Powering a Google search.

The Google post says: "Tools like email, online books and photos, and video chat all increase productivity while decreasing our reliance on car trips, pulp and paper." And "In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2."

An important but omitted part of the equation is what people do as a result of running a Google search query.

Some folks may decide to sprinkle a pasture with carbon-friendly windmills, but others will decide to buy that gas-guzzling SUV they've been hankering for, or plan their next trip abroad by jet.

The post also glosses over other Google products such as Google Maps, Find Businesses, and Get Directions. These apps are probably pollution facilitators. Surely some Google Maps users will walk, jog, zip-line, or bicycle to their destinations. However, most users will probably drive a polluting car.

I use Google search quite often, and I am glad that Google is trying to organize the world's knowledge - however I'm not convinced the net impact of Google is green.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Google Trends: Comparing Ice Cream Flavors

A Google R&D post from a few months ago A new flavor of Google Trends interpreted the Google trends graphs for vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream.

I commented about the post here: Does Google Trends data equate to consumer interest?

Taking another look at the Google R&D post, an additional problem is the queries the R&D poster uses are imprecise for a conclusion about ice cream.

My suggestion: Try these instead: "vanilla ice cream" and "chocolate ice cream".

Probably, there are far more chocolate products  in the world than vanilla. For example:
cakes, candy bars, cookies. However, folks still like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate ice cream.

The surrounding quotes enable Google Trends to return ice cream rather than a mixture of products.