Sunday, October 05, 2008

BPN 1241 Google jubilee: a confession

This year Google celebrates its first decade of operation. In just a few years Google was able to send search engines into oblivion. Who does still use Altavista, for example? Over the years Google has become an institution with an idealistic objective of making all the information in the world accessible electronically. And this not only means already digitised information, but also printed information such as books.

As part of the celebration Google has put up the internet index, not of the starting year 1998, but of 2001, when the first annual internet index was technically possible. This index shows a snapshot of internet in the new century. It also delivers an opportunity to compare the Google index of 2001 with the present index in the search engine. And the search company collaborates for the 20001 project with Internet Archive, which preserves old internet pages.

Of course I did some search and hit work. I looked for the name of my company in 2001 and 2008 and of course for my own name. The name of my company yielded some interesting results. Electronic Media Reporting (between quotes) delivered in 2001 a simple 245 links. The interesting part I that there were no links to my company, but al US links to the method of reporting with electronic media. In 2008 there were 3920 references, with only four references to the method of electronic reporting on the front page and more than 8 references to my company. In fact the first the first reference is to my company, which shows the improved localisation of the search engine. Of course I did also a search for my own name. This yielded in 2001 already 1820 references and had grown to 3110 links in 2008. For me the Google index of 2001 still showed the rise of internet and the global city theme, as my name is mentioned in the OJR Features: 50 international names to know (in journalism).

The jubilee also reminds me of a goof-up. By 1999, Google was ready to spread the wings over Europe. At that time I was working for the Dutch language newsletter Telecombrief . So on a day a press release came in and told about the launch of the Dutch language version of the search engine; at that time the major Dutch language search engine was Ilse., which now has shrivelled. I remember responding to the press release, which came from a Belgian PR bureau, which released the press releases rather in Flemish than in Dutch. Besides my remarks about their antiquated words, I told them that we, journalists, had heard all that stuff of being the best one before and that search engines still were stupid machines as they yielded more irrelevant stuff than relevant links. I told them also that Google still used the stupid search method of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and that searching had not moved forward since 1972. Looking back I am still convinced that my comments about the information overload and Boolean operators still stand, but I must grant that Google in the meantime grew to giant proportions.

I wonder where Google will be in the next ten years. Will they still exist? Will the company have made improvements on their search engine? In the meantime Google is the best we have at the moment.

Blog Posting Number: 1241

Tags: search engine

No comments: