Penetrating Google’s Kevlar Vest

Penetrating Google’s Kevlar Vest

I use a number of online Web search systems. Most people CONSIDER Google the go-to system. Google automatically personalizes results. Google predicts what a user wants. Google makes it easy to find information without having to do a lap around the library.

 

Google is a public company, and shareholders want to benefit from Google’s economic success. In order to deliver a profit, Google has to find ways to increase revenues and, if possible, hold down costs.

 

I read about a Google test that replaces the traditional page of search results with a large banner or display ad. The search results get squeezed. The standard Google search results screen I usually see is in an ad sandwich. There are ads above, alongside, and maybe elsewhere on the page. I am just not sufficiently astute to spot them.

 

I will continue to use Google to look for popular culture information, but, for quite a while, I have embraced other search systems ALSO. I want to highlight some of the information access tools I use. I find it much easier to run queries across two or more systems, compare the results, and then select specific items to explore more fully.

 

Bing

 

Microsoft has invested significant resources in its Web search engine, BING. Like Google, its utility is degrading. Microsoft has not become the powerhouse that Google’s Web search is, BUT there is some useful information in the Bing index. My test queries suggest that Google has a deeper index. But Microsoft’s search system offers up some information that is often buried on the Google system.

 

For example, if I look for research papers on Google I get a mixed bag of results. If I want Google research papers, I have to enter the search string “papers by Googlers” or “Google Labs research papers.” The only way to unlock the information is TO know the secret code.

 

Bing, on the other hand, points me to Microsoft Academic Search. (This link is http://research.microsoft.com.) When I navigate to this collection of content at Microsoft, I get access to a large number of research papers by Microsoft professionals, as well as others. One interesting twist is that using Microsoft Academic Research, I was able to locate a research paper by a PhD named Babak Parviz. I was able to verify that this person also worked at Google and published papers for Google under the name Babak Amirparviz.

 

Bing provides search results to search systems that do not index content themselves. These services are search aggregators. The jargon to describe this approach to search is “federated search.” Most users do not know that some search systems are taking a user’s query and sending it to Bing, maybe Google, and sometimes Yandex. When the results come back, the search aggregators filter the respective results lists for duplicates and display a single mashed up list. Companies delivering this type of search include DuckDuckGo.com and Cluuz.com.

 

Cluuz.com is particularly useful because it sends queries to Bing. I have found that content displayed via the Cluuz.com system is more useful THAN the direct results from Microsoft’s search system, OR EVEN Yahoo’s or Google’s in many cases.

 

Navigate to www.cluuz.com. Enter a query; for example, “Healthcare.gov.” Cluuz.com generated a result list with a link to a portion of the much-criticized site called Data.HealthCare.gov.”

 

datahealthcare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The information on this Web page did not surface when I entered the same query on Google.com, Yandex.com, and Yahoo.com.

 

I then used Cluuz.com to search for the name of the Kathleen Sebelius. The specific query I used was “HealthCare.gov Kathleen Sibelius”. I saw a traditional results list, but Cluuz.com offers a relationship map feature.

 

sibelius results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The map makes it easy to see the relationship among the different individuals involved in the HealthCare.gov matter. I suppose I could have developed this type of summary myself if I had the time. Cluuz.com generated this useful way to look at a large number of factual items in a single graphic display.

 

If you have not tried Cluuz.com, you may want to give it a test drive. The system was conceptualized by a former military professional. The Cluuz.com Web site is a demonstration of entity analysis and information access technology now available from a Canadian company doing business as Sprylogics at http://www.sprylogics.com/.

 

Other useful search systems worth checking include:

 

  • Jike.com. Jike is a search system sponsored by the Chinese government. Even though the system is in Chinese, I translate queries from English into Chinese using http://translate.google.com. Then I paste the Chinese into Jike and reverse the process to access the content. The system makes it possible to access information that is often unfindable in English language indexes. I enter the English names of companies in which I am interested. If there are Chinese language articles mentioning these companies, I take a quick look at these stories. I have learned that if a US company is in Jike, that company is of some interest to the People’s Daily newspaper.
  • Silobreaker. Developed by Swedish military officers, Silobreaker is a commercial search company. A query passed against Silobreaker generates a results list, provides one click access to free and for fee content, and a Cluuz-style relationship map. However, Silobreaker adds several important features, including a “last known location function” and reports that present search results in an easy-to-read format. Information about Silobreaker is at www.silobreaker.com. A free trial is available, but after 30 days the company offers a subscription account.
  • Yandex.com and Yandex.ru. This Russian company indexes Web content and delivers results lists without advertising. The more useful version of the Yandex service is its Russian language site. The content in Yandex.ru is not easily available via other Web search systems.

 

With these services, and others, it is possible to penetrate Google’s bullet proof vest. I personally do not want to see ads or deal with behind-the-scenes filtering of search results.

Stephen E. Arnold

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