Google impresses the heck out of me. Obviously, it provides an awesome array of features, stuff that you can get from it. Underlying all of that stuff, however, is an incredible chunk of software that “understands” what you want. Google “knows” a lot about what is out there. When you type a query, Google matches what it thinks you want with what it has found. The result is way more than simple keyword searching. There is an immense amount of semantic processing going on behind the scenes.
For instance, I found a reference to Togo in the news yesterday. Being geographically challenged, I wanted to find out where Togo is. So I Googled for “where is togo?” The result:
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Benin and Ghana
According to http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2144.html
Not only did Google understand my question and know where to find the answer, it knew how to find the specific phrase on the larger page and it displayed it nicely and with a nice attribution so that I could learn where to find more of this information in the future.
Think about it…. We read sci-fi about AI but here it is, having silently slipped into the mainstream of our lives. Google works so well because it responds intelligently to our queries.
While I’m on the subject, here are a few more nifty Google features:
- Try Googling “movie times” to see what’s playing in your neighborhood, what it is rated, how well liked it is, reviews, etc.
- Conversions. Try something like “25 miles in cm” to convert miles to centimeters.
- And David’s favorite: Go to the Google main page, enter “elgoog” (that’s Google, spelled backwards), and press “I’m feeling lucky.”
Now here’s a challenge for libraries and librarians: Find the service that you can provide above and beyond what Google’s AI does instantaneously and free. Then market the heck out of that niche.