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A Google Experimental search using the timeline view to organize results.  (Source: Google)
A number of new search types have been added in a public trial by Google

With talk of a Yahoo-Microsoft merger hot on everyone's tongues and rampant speculation of how such a move would effect search engine leader Google, one common sentiment voiced was a general public dissatisfaction and disinterest with modern search engines ranging from moderate to severe.  Bored with Yahoo?  Bored with Google?  Well, now you have a new option... Google Experimental.

Google Experimental looks to reinvent the search engine wheel and cast a fresh light on the problem.  It might not exactly be a party in your computer, or as much fun as the Crysis, but the new engine does deliver on some unique premises.

Instead of viewing a simple list of results the new experimental search engine provides searchers with several options with which to view their results.  Aside from a list, users can view a map of results or a timeline with results chronologically organized.  From there users can apply special informational filters, to further pare down the information obtained.

Dan Crow, product manager at Google, lauds the experiment as critical to providing users with a more pleasing search engine experience.  Crow thinks that despite many users being satisified with current engines, there's a need for improvement.  He states, "The basic format hasn't changed much because it's been successful ... It works well for most of the users most of the time, but that doesn't mean we couldn't do something beyond search today."

The static nature of search engines is something that has bothered many.  While search algorithms have improved with time, the ten result list present a decade ago still remains standard.  Some say search engines have gotten worse with time, with the rise of web advertising that has left most modern search engines sporting ads.  Marti Hearst, a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, complains, "If you compare Google search-result listings today to the Infoseek results in 1997, they're almost indistinguishable [in terms of presentation], except for the ads."

Google has made some modest attempts to spice up its results with a couple YouTube videos or pictures.  Professor Hearst feels the most innovative working search engines though are Ask.com, which lets you view thumbnails of pages, and Clusty.com that extracts words from the search results for filtering and greater search refinement.  An example of this is when a user searches "MIT" they get the option of choosing between the words "laboratory," "Massachusetts Institute of Technology," "project," and more to pick their desired result.

Hearst does note that Google is still far and away the most dominant in the search engine industry.  He feels that its dominance is partly due to its simplicity, which makes in accessible to users of all skill levels.  More powerful complex formats might appeal to power users but turn off beginners.  Also he feels that habit keeps many people coming back to the same old boring 10 results-per-page searches, a format that Google has mastered.

Google's experimental is available here if you sign up for the program.




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