Saturday, December 11, 2004

Google Suggests: Google learns its ABCs

New on the Google horizon this week: Google Suggests.

As you type, Google auto-completes your search with words or phrases that people search for the most. It offers a drop down that you can choose from; or choose to ignore the suggestions, and just keep typing.

A simple and powerful idea. What amazes me is how fast it is, and how little additional memory it seems to require for your browser. Clearly they've done some thoughtful engineering -- gee, what a surprise, the Google team writing good code!

Folks on Slashdot have examined the JavaScript code and report that it's doing quick little transactions back to the mother ship as you type. I'm betting they repurposed concept and code from Gmail, which does very clever auto-completes as you enter a person's e-mail address, and which carries on a conversation with frequently during your session.

Some folks were a tad confused when I showed this to them. Note that:

-- The suggestions Google gives you represent the most popular user searches Google has for the combination of letters that you type, not the most-linked-to sites.

-- The number of hits just represents the number of matching items in Google's index; it is not PageRank or a measure of importance. For instance, (sic, with the .com) has one hit, even though it's a highly important site.

My colleague Trevor Barnes came up with this formulation, a 26-part snapshot of what the world seeks in 2004.9:

The ABC's of Google

A is for Amazon
B is for Best Buy
C is for CNN
D is for Dictionary
E is for Ebay
F is for Firefox
G is for Games
H is for Hotmail
I is for Ikea
J is for Jokes
K is for Kazaa
L is for Lyrics
M is for Mapquest
N is for News
O is for Online dictionary
P is for Paris Hilton
Q is for Quotes
R is for Recipes
S is for Spybot
T is for Tara Reid
U is for Ups
V is for Verizon
W is for Weather
X is for Xbox
Y is for Yahoo
Z is for Zip Codes

Neil Young once wrote a song called "Rust Never Sleeps," named after an advertising slogan. Clearly, Google engineers never sleep.

Try it yourself:

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