I wanted to mess around with Google’s new Custom Search Engine feature and in casting about for a list of URLs to feed it I thought I’d try the list of blogs at Planet Code4Lib. As it turns out, this might be a modestly useful search if you remember reading something from one of the code4lib bloggers but can’t remember which one. The exercise was pretty fun and here is the result:
Extra! Extra! Read All About It! “Explore History as it Happened: Google News Now Has Archive Search” Extra! Extra!
In my imagination I can see and hear the herald of the newspaper carrier on the street corner barking out this call. Except, Kids These Days would probably decry the use of dead trees to carry stale news and already be reading it on their PDAs and text-messaging each other on their cell phones. As it is, I found out about it through a story on Search Engine Watch (also found in Wall Street Journal and the U.K. Guardian and the New York Times) which itself touted Google’s “200 Year News Archive Search.” It is a nice service; I look at it, though, and have to wonder about the changing — if not outright diminishing — role of libraries as couriers of information. After all, couldn’t links to resources from the user’s local library be included right there next to the commercial article suppliers? If they could, why aren’t they? And what does it mean that they are not?
I have been heard to remark to other librarians on occasion a comment along the lines of “Don’t fear Google; Don’t Chase Google; Let’s Out-Google Google!” After allowing the confused stare linger for a moment or the hysterical laughter die down, I explain my thesis: we have something Google doesn’t have — no, it isn’t the selective care with which we select “authoritative” material (the PageRank algorithm does a pretty good job at that); and no, it isn’t our warehouses of books (the Google Book Search project will pretty effectively capture that) — we have faceted metadata. And lots of it.
Has anyone else started seeing what looks to be faceted topical headings at the top of Google searches? This past weekend I was the groomsman at my brother’s wedding and had the unfortunate timing to catch a case of conjunctivitis in both eyes the day before the ceremony. (“Does your camera have red-eye reduction setting?” I asked the photographer. She seemed confused, so I continued: “How about pink-eye reduction?” She looked a little closer at my eyes, laughed, and said “That’s what Photoshop is for.”) Wanting to know more, I did what any self-respecting information-finder would do — I asked Google. And here’s what came up.