just how intelligent is goggle [sic]?

There's a 2 Ronnies sketch, set in a pub, where 2 old boys meet at the bar and catch up over a beer. The Ronnie Corbett character is trying to tell Ronnie Barker's character about his new job but he keeps getting stuck for the right word, which Ronnie Barker cheerfully attempts to fill in, getting it hilariously wrong every time.

As Google's search functionality gets more and more 'intelligent' are we getting lazier and lazier in our search habits? In an earlier post I mused on the 'People who liked this also liked…' recommendations of other content streams given by sites like Amazon and the way they try to second-guess our taste.

EDIT: In the wake of accusations of snooping over new version of itunes the BBC reports this

Posting on the subject of the mechanics of searching, Seth Godin asks whether Yahoo Maps 'should have "known" that Paterson is often spelled with two "t"s?' His conclusion: 'Of course'.

He goes on to flag up that 'The danger zone is when only some of the obvious mistakes are caught.' How many times have you been caught out by a spell checker that didn't pick up a typo because it was not spelled incorrectly but was in fact a word used wrongly?

Mr Godin asks us to 'Watch a kid search on Google--they don't even try to get the spelling right. Why bother?' The increase in typosquatting and other devious, dark marketing practices is an indication that we aren't bothering and a direct result of what happens when we don't bother. If you don't think around the obvious ways in which someone is going to access your content through searches then someone else will. Remember the 2 Ronnies and don't rely on Google's second guesses.

EDIT: An interesting reversal on this site - deliberately searching for mis-spelled items on ebay


Anonymous Andrea Weckerle said...

Sam, very thought-provoking post.

Your mention of not catching an incorrectly-used word that is in fact spelled correctly reminded me of a comment I left on your recent post about blog design. I wrote something to the effect of "knock-your-socks-off." Well, instead of typing "socks," I quite mistakenly typed the proper term for male chickens. Thankfully I caught the error in time... The lesson? Don’t blindly rely on technology tools without understanding their limitations.

2:51 pm  
Anonymous Serge said...

Ah, the two Jonnies. Great memories; how often did they make me laugh... Anyway: you have a point. But believe me: if you think this is a problem in English, go talk to the people who have to redo the Dutch spelling checker for just about the third time in ten years. And I am talking about thoroughly redoing it. Apparently, the "guardians" of our (let's face it: small and relatively unimportant) language have a need to overcompensate and make themselves look more important than they really are. Our students don't even care anymore about spelling. And as a lecturer, I am finding it harder and harder to blame them for it...

6:44 pm  

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