December 2003 Archive
In keeping with a sudden frenzy of new initiatives, Google is now starting to include records and extracts from published books along with a few connections into library holdings information. These two initiatives are currently separate from each other, and since they are both experimental, they may change or stop appearing at any time. Neither one tends to show up in search results very often, but here are a few links to see what they look like.
First, the Google Print inside the book content, which is not as useful as the Amazon Search Inside the Book since it only includes extracts. Note that the text actually resides on Google's servers. See the Google Print FAQ for more information.
Second, Google has some links to OCLC's Open WorldCat pilot project. It took awhile to find a search that would retrieve one, but Maureen Whitebrook toads seems to work. After finding such a record, the user will need to enter a ZIP code to have it identify local libraries holding the particular book.
While at first glance, both of these book-related efforts seem like good ideas, they may well just confuse the sense of what Google is indexing. Most library patrons are still better served by checking directly with their library's own catalog. And book buyers are likely better served at Amazon or another book retailer.
Google is now featuring its shopping search engine more prominently, just in time for the end of the Christmas shopping season. It is not only advertising Froogle directly on the main Google page, but at the top of some search results (only for specific query words), Google will list "Product Search" results. They have been experimenting with this since earlier this month, but these results are now live. As with other recent Google initiatives, it is a bit of a guessing game when the Product results will show. A search on wooden spoons had no Product links while tea kettles had the standard three (even though wooden spoons has more than 100 results in Froogle).
AlltheWeb and AltaVista are now owned by Yahoo! when they bought Overture. For now, AltaVista and AlltheWeb continue to be available at their historic locations and have separate databases for their Web search results. However, since at least sometime in November, AltaVista and AlltheWeb seem to have merged their image, news, and video databases. Both continue to have differences in the search interfaces and search features but the content appears to be the same. The audio searches are getting more similar and perhaps share a portion of their database, but the Web results still are quite different.
Google has added a few more shortcuts for specific number searches and for airport travel conditions. Basically, five databases will have shortcuts: U.S. Patents, UPS Tracking Numbers, FedEx Tracking Numbers, FCC Equipment IDs, and FAA Airplane Registration Numbers. Note that some require a prefix like patent, fedex, or fcc while others do not and the airport weather needs the suffix of airport. Not all of the examples given work, or they only work at some data centers, but since it is a new feature, those bugs should be worked out soon.
Also, Google is trying out a new design and look on a very small portion of searchers. Whether Google will decide to implement the new look in this screen shot (or here or here) remains to be seen. But based on these samples, it looks like they are experimenting with doing away with the tabbed interface and moving those links above the search box, removing the color background on ads, and adding a "define" link after the search terms. Or is this just a response to Danny Sullivan's predications of multiplying tabs?
Northern Light announces the return of a search product, but this time it is a Business Research Library available by subscription, first to businesses in January and then to individual in March. It sounds like no free Web searching and no pay per retrieval options, at least at this point. Paula Hane has more details in her report.