Yesterday, the Twittercircle of Prosperity was all abuzz with wild speculation over Google’s newest homepage logo, which was composed of a series of dots that reacted violently to the approach of the cursor. Such incisive commentary as “pretty”, “this is awesome”, and “I’m trippin’ balls, man!” floated about, while tech industry thought leaders nodded wisely and stroked their beards. Myself, I had seen enough of this sort of reaction whenever I’d wander into the girls’ locker room in high school, so I remained unimpressed.
However, many pundits seemed to agree that whatever was going on would be cleared up at Google’s then-impending event, scheduled for the following Wednesday. Little clues were dropped by Google’s official Twitter feed — “Our doodle is dressing up in its brightest colors for something exciting coming very soon … ” and “Boisterous doodle today. Maybe it’s excited about the week ahead … ” promising something exciting in the works. I don’t know about you, but the idea of a sentient and excited “doodle” is fairly alarming. I’m fairly alarmed here.
Sure enough, today witnessed the unveiling of “Google Instant”, an update to the existing powerful search engine. What’s the big deal, you ask? “Instant” purports to deliver the search result you want before you even finish typing it! So … yay?
Now, don’t get me wrong (unless you’re going to pay me well for it, in which case you can get me any way you want me, tiger, rawr), I’m a fan of both progress and technology — which are not necessarily the same thing. Just ask Michael Crichton. The idea of a faster Google search is intriguing, but I wasn’t exactly pining away for celerity in the first place. When was the last time you had to wait more than a few seconds for a result? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only time speed really matters is when lives are on the line, and chances are you’re not going to be doing a search for “How to stop a charging rhino” or “How to reattach your own head”. And if you are, I’m never going on vacation with you ever again, Mr. Grylls.
No, what I’m after is better results for my search term. More often than not, Google offers me a lot of exactly the wrong suggestions. They’re nice, but in the immortal words of Nicholas Cage, “Is it Ka’a'awa or Ka’a'a’awa?” However, I do appreciate that when typing in “kaaaa”, Google offers me no less than five different versions of “Khaaaaaaan!” But wait, look: Google Instant is live right now! Let’s play with it and see what it does! *snaps on surgeons’ gloves* Bend over and cough. Let’s commit some science.
Now, one of the claims made by the Googleoids is that Instant can predict what you’re searching for. So let’s start typing “a”: “amazon”, “aol”, “apple”, “att” pop up. Not what I want. Keep going with “ak”: “ako”, “akc”, “akamai”. Still not right. “Ake” gives us “akeena solar”, “akea”, “akebono”. “Akel” displays “akela”. AT LAST. However, it takes typing “akela tal” to get to my name. So I wouldn’t call Instant “predictive”, necessarily.
How does it do on speed? Not too bad, but if you’re going to call yourself “Instant”, a pause of a full second just ain’t gonna cut it. But whatever, this is Web 2.0; we have to expect this sort of thing. However, I’ve noticed something interesting. When I type “goats”, the little fuzzy critters pop up. When I complete it with “goatse”, Google Instant offers no results whatsoever. It isn’t until I hit the Enter key that the usual horrors appear. And this is with SafeSearch disabled. What’s up, Google? Chocolate rain? It’s in there, at “choco”. Double rainbow guy? Found after typing “dou”. Ah, but “2 girls” also gives me nothing until I hit Enter. I think I’m onto something … or maybe just on something.
Why does Instant not want to display famous NSFW memes? It’s not as though you can’t get at them by the traditional means, though it kills me to have to use the word “traditional” in this context. Here’s a fun bit of homework for y’all: try to get Instant to recommend the nastiest thing you can think of, and note the result. Let me know what you come up with in the comments below. Dammit, the people need their filth, faster! These vinyl-clad Dwarf hamsters aren’t going to … do … something … by themselves! They need direction, something new. I hate to break it to you, Google, but the Internet is for porn. And if you can’t give us the right porn fast enough, then let me give you another word that people think of when they hear the word “instant”: Bing!