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Interview With Google's Amit Singhal and Udi Manber

 3:28 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interview With Google's Amit Singhal and Udi Manber [telegraph.co.uk]
With that unique position, however, comes responsibilities – when Google makes small changes, users’ behaviour can change enormously. The fortunes of whole companies and countless careers live and die by their rankings in search results. “We deal with those responsibilities by having very concrete principles,” says Singhal. “All rankings are decided algorithmically, and the focus is on user benefit, not advertiser or commercial benefit. We ask ourselves, ‘Can a random company who does not want to be part of any Google system be harmed by a change we’re proposing?’ If they are, we won’t do it.”
The problem Google faces is not simply finding a mathematical model for language, however. “When it comes to human language understanding we are still at the toddler stage,” says Singhal. “But over the next ten years we will attain the level of an eight or nine year old. We’ll be able to perfect experiences we don’t fully trust today”.

That means speech recognition that works, and putting databases together so that they play nicely. The results, Singhal says, “sound like science fiction”.



 4:49 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

...says Manber. “But search is ‘give me what I need not what I said’. And the way people express themselves is often very different from what they need”. So in fact, Google is finding that its job is to find out what people meant, not what they asked for – and then to work out what they’ll be asking for next.

The mentality above explains quite a bit IMO, and if that's what they're after, then the changes are definitely an improvement... You can't find what you said, because that's not what they think you're really looking for.



 6:12 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

That means that "we -the users-" are going to have to learn another language to be able to express our desires or intentions... the "Google knows best" language?

Our different cultures, experiences and backgrounds mold our abilities and capabilities to express ourselfs in words. Obiously, using our "own words" is not enough anymore when doing a search in google.

From now on, googling is going to be like a visit to the phiscologist....as we're gonna be anaylized to get our "real meaning".

Reminds me to Harry Enfield.. with the "you do not want to do that".


 6:28 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is really Manuel in Fawlty Towers:


On those trays = Uno dos Tres


 9:39 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

if that's what they're after

Since at least early in 2009, their Grail has been "user intention" - and it seems to have worked for the great majority. It does make it tougher to do SEO research.

I was thinking about this just yesterday. If some variant of the query terms is presented in the Suggestions dropdown, and then NOT chosen by the user - why shouldn't Google take that signal into account? It seems to mean "No, I really wanted 'this search'". But I'm not sitting with all their data either, so my guess is skewed by py personal preferences, I guess.

Notable quote in that article from Udi Manber: "Looking back on it maybe we made the problem worse."


 9:47 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)


Maybe Google is also from Barcelona.....? LOL


 9:54 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Looking back on it maybe we made the problem worse."

Yeah, IDK on the spelling issue, but personally, I think with the 'user intent' ideal they could be going too far to move past 'type of search' like they are trying to now and risk turning people off... They need a huge amount of data about people to do what they would like rather than letting people 'learn how to search', which is one of the reasons I switched.

They're just going to far with things for me, by 'overdoing' and 'thinking for me' and I don't know how long it will take for people to 'adjust' or 'acclimate' to the 'intrusiveness' necessary for 'super personalization', and granted, I have a better idea than most what's going on, so maybe I'm still a bit 'older generation, tinfoil hatty', about the possibility of the data falling into the wrong hands, or being accidentally exposed, or exploited somehow, but personally, from a privacy perspective, I don't like the road they're going down, and I think there's a real risk the 'over personalization' and 'overdoing' the drawing of conclusions for users backfiring...

I think it's an interesting discussion, and one they probably weighed carefully before going down this road though, at least I hope they did.


 1:46 am on Jun 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is becoming a joke..when I search on Google I dont want them to give me what they think I'm looking for...I need exact matches... thats why I use the "" anytime I perform a search in google so that it will give me what I want not what "they" think I want.


 4:11 am on Jun 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

...from a privacy perspective, I don't like the road they're going down, and I think there's a real risk the 'over personalization' and 'overdoing' the drawing of conclusions for users backfiring...

I couldn't agree more. It all has a 'we think you must be dumb' feel to it.

More than anything else, I think they need to hire someone/a company to remedy the quote that Brin made a few months ago:

Google co-founder Sergey Brin conceded in an interview that Google's management lacks "emotional intelligence," said the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, author of the best-selling book "Googled: The End of the World as We Know it."

This could be one of a number of threats and stumbling blocks ahead for Google. While Google continues to show extraordinary growth and profitability, a big fault could lie in a company run by engineers who lack the "emotional intelligence" needed to navigate an increasingly complex world of government intervention and public perception.

(Oddly enough, my search on Bing to find the quote above, decided for me to include "brain" instead of "Brin" in the SERP's. Geez, just let people search for things. There's no need to intervene in that manner and display unrelated results first. And that goes for all search engines.)

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