There's a feature article about Google on the front page of the NY Times Business section today. The reporter who wrote the article was allowed to spend a whole day with the Google search-quality team, attending some internal meetings and talking to several top engineers whose job it is to keep tweaking the search engine to make it better and better. The Google folks didn't give away any secrets - no access to the magical algorithms - but did shed some light on how they continue to improve search results. One of the engineers explained what Google has done in a nutshell:
“Search over the last few years has moved from ‘Give me what I typed’ to ‘Give me what I want’ .” Let's hope that Lexis and Westlaw can evolve the same way.
Speaking of Google, a rumor is going around that they're adding new functionalities to the Google Image search. Pandia Search Engine News reports that Google has made a silent launch of a new face search function; according to Ars Technica, the technology is a result of Google's 2006 acquisition of Neven Vision, a company that had developed techniques for facial recognition in photos. To see what it's about, go to Google Image Search, type in your search terms (I used "Sidney Crosby"), and click Search. On the Results page, go up to the website url and add "&imgtype=face" at the end of the url; when you enter this url, you will see results that are more face than anything else. Ars Technica also says if you add "&imgtype=news" you will get results that are from news articles. Where is all this going? "Even cooler (or creepier, as the case may be), one day Google's image search may be able to find faces of specific people based on image analysis/recognition alone instead of relying on the text associated with that image to identify the person in the photo."