Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why Google Instant is a dumb idea

Every time I get on any computer I use, I turn off Google Instant, well, instantly. It has never made sense to me and has actually been extremely distracting. The whole reason I see Google Instant as being absolutely foolish in design is this: I think of searches in words, not letters. To me, if I want to find results for "ternary operator", I'm not going to type "t", look through the results, "e", look through the results, "r", look through the results, etc. Furthermore, how long does it take you to type "tern", guestimating? Ok, now how long does it take to type "terna"? How about "ternary"? I'm not the fastest typer in the world but it still does not make enough of a difference for me to actually be to look through the results as I'm typing.

Plus, there's the whole factor of "tern" meaning something completely different than "ternary", which also means something completely different than "ternary operator." The point is that a search is an entire entity; you can't split it up, and you can't substitute a part. Every word is there for a reason, and looking at parts of that word is just looking at a completely different search than was intended. It's hard enough with Google fucking with searches by trying to "guess" what we are trying to search for, how is doing it instantly with an incomplete search entity going to help?

Google Instant just proves that Google is completely wrong in the head when it comes to how they think we search: they think that we don't know what we want. So we need to swap out words for similar words like showing results for "like" when you searched for "similar", even though with social networking the definition of the word "like" has evolved far beyond just a synonym for "similar", and thus skews the results beyond any usability. Similarly, that's why they decide that we need help every single letter, even though (a) no one in their right mind thinks of searches letter by letter and (b) changing a word by 1 letter drastically change the meaning of it 99% of the time, resulting in not just skewed results, but absolutely wrong.

I just am dumbfounded by Google -the company that seems to usually be very smart about what the user wants- can be so blind by this continued negligence toward the intelligence of the user. I don't want to admit it, but it has got to be money oriented, because there is simply no way that some of the brightest minds in the world can look at the results of these searches and think that the "enhancements" they made actually help.

Let me lay something down for you, Google. Before you introduced all these features, it took me maybe 4-5 searches of about 5 pages each to find something that I wanted of normal obscurity. Usually my search progression would be "banana tasty", then "banana delicious", and so forth. Granted, that is not that great, so I understand your desire to enhance the experience, and it is kind of annoying to try to search for synonyms, but at least I had complete control over what results I would get. Now, I have only one search (because all of those above mean the same thing now), about 15 pages, and I cannot find my result. Stop acting like Microsoft; I don't want a "decision engine", I want a search engine so that I can look through results and then decide. I am the decision engine! So unless you can come up with a new algorithm that can decide what I want better than me, I recommend you cut the crap and give the internet the useful Google Search back.


PS - Don't even get me started on Google Instant on mobile. Just....don't.

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