Monday, December 17, 2007

Lessions in Search Quality

I'm at the library right now writing a twelve (12) page paper which is something that I don't enjoy doing very much. Anyway, (some of) the computers in the library only have Internet Explorer in a quasi-kiosk mode with no address bar. The only way to navigate to, say, Google, is to open the IE search sidebar and search for "google". The IE search sidebar uses Windows Live Search.

So I get on to one of these computer and need to get to Google Book Search ( I type "book search" into the search sidebar and hit enter. Before I tell you what results Windows Live gave me for "book search," let me briefly tell you what Google gives you for the same query: - result #1, just what I want. Now here is what Windows Live gave me:

Result #1: "Best way to search for books on the net! ... All rights reserved. This page is copyright 1994 Triple Threat Sportscards." [Emphasis mine]

Result #2: "Search engine that finds the best buys from among 125 million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books for sale. Includes textbooks and international titles." [Emphasis mine]

Result #3: [The Wikipedia page about Google Book Search]

Result #4: [The official blog about Google Book Search]

Result #5: [A used book retailer... in the UK]

Result #6: [Apparently it thinks I could use another result from the same UK estore]

Result#7: [Finally it gives me the UK version of Google Book Search. To be clear, I'm not using the UK version of Live Search. It recommended the domain before the .com domain]

In the subsiquent results were and, but plain old didn't show up in the 35 pages I clicked through. I thought that was an interesting observation.