Thursday, March 31, 2005

I know what you're thinking...

Recently my attention was drawn to Google Suggests. This is an interesting tool for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it is interesting to see what Google suggests as you type your search terms. It works a bit like predictive text, but it seems to base its suggestions on the popularity of words used in searches. Google therefore guides you to use keywords that will help you narrow your search. Teoma does something similar when it suggests ways to refine your search, however, Teoma doesn't do this until after you hit the search button: Google Suggests does it in real time as you type! Not only that, but it tells you how many hits you will get for each set of keywords it suggests - again before you hit the search button.

Secondly, it does all this in real time! Now, I can hear some people saying, "So what!", but think about it for a minute - what usually happens when you type something on the web? Say you type a new web address (URL), or enter a search term and hit return, or even just click a hyperlink; your actions generate a request from your machine, which is sent through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), onto the Internet to travel through some convoluted path to a machine somewhere else on the Internet, which then does something with your request and (hopefully) sends something through the Internet, via your ISP and back to your machine. All this takes time. Even with a broadband connection, it can still feel like you are using the World Wide Wait.

Somehow or other, Google have got a web based service acting like it is an application running on your machine. How can Google Suggests do it all so quickly? To be honest, I don't know (...yet) but that's why it is not just interesting, but (and I'm sorry for sounding like a geek) stunningly impressive too!

If Google are able to create Web based applications like this, I assume others are doing it too. I hope to have a look for more examples and find out more about how Google have done it. I'll let you know if I find anything interesting and I'd be grateful if anyone can direct me to similar Web based applications.

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