Google announced yesterday a refinement to its search capabilities. They are calling it universal search. Google search guru*, Marissa Mayer, says, “With universal search, we’re attempting to break down the walls that traditionally separated our various search properties and integrate the vast amounts of information available into one simple set of search results.”
Essentially, a single Google search returns results that are somewhat clustered by various categories, like Web, News, Images, Video, etc. Links appear above the search results. Clicking a link will display the type of result indicated by the link. Marissa gives a few examples in her blog post. A search for “Steve Jobs” defaults to web results, but offers “News” and “Video” links to — you guessed it — news and videos about the man.
Another new feature is contextual navigation. At the very top of the various Google “products” there is a horizontal menu that changes based on which product you are using. So if you are using Gmail, the menu includes Calendar, Documents, Photos, Groups, Web, and the catch-all “more.” This is the best part — the “more” menu item is a drop down list of just about all of the Google products, so you can quickly switch to these various products without having to remember the URL or go back to the Google homepage and selecting from the list.
These are interesting and valuable refinements to Google’s search and products, but are they revolutionary? Not really. In fact, there is a search engine, Vivisimo (see also, Clusty), that already does much of what Google’s universal search does. And maybe better. The clustering is based, apparently, on key words and categories that are dependent on the search term. So, a seach for “Steve Jobs” offers more valuable groupings, like CEO, Photos, Mac, Keynote, Interview, etc. See below.
Which is better. You decide. They both have their strong points. And Google is not resting on it’s triple-digit share price. It will continue to refine and improve. As Ms. Mayer says, “While today’s releases are big steps in making the world’s information more easily accessible, these are just the beginning steps toward the universal search vision. Stay tuned!”
* Marissa’s real title is VP Search Products & User Experience
LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers