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CIL Keynote #1

Mar - 22 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

Today’s keynote was titled Search Engine Report by Chris Sherman of Search Engine Watch. I actually went in thinking there wasn’t much he could tell me that I wasn’t already aware of, but I was pleasantly surprised. Chris talked about the state of search engines – how in 1995 they were exiting and new to everyone – how the excitement died with the death of the dot coms – and how they’re new and exciting again.

I wish I was closer to the screen so I could have taken a picture of the first slide for you – maybe I’ll find it on the Internet and post it later – it was a picture of 2 people in a space ship looking at earth which has the word Google covering it. In the text bubble it says something like “Things have changed since we were last here”

But Google didn’t start the presentation – the death/retirement of Jeeves was the jumping off point – side note – I saw a commercial last night for the new Ask.com and it showed me some pretty cool looking features – back to the point – Chris also pointed out some great features like “actual” language reconition for a Q&A search, a zoom feature that lets you preview a thumnail of the page on your search results (I know there’s a Firefox plugin that does this – but the name escapes me), and my favorite was the maps by Ask. Instead of just showing driving directions, they also give you walking directions!! How nifty is that?? Chris said that it takes into account things like elevation – so when you’re walking in SF it won’t send you up the hill from hell. If I could get wireless to work for more than 2 minutes I’d play with it for walking directions around DC.

The number one selling point for Ask is that they hired Gary Price – a librarian – to work on their staff! For all of these reasons, and more, Chris likes Ask more than the other major search engines out there.

Next what’s new with MSN – and I’m sorry to say I didn’t take many notes – I know MSN has a lot of cool things – I just went into my “he’s talking about Micro$oft” daze.

So let’s move on to Google. Google is no longer a search engine – Google is becoming a marketing company, a tv and radio company, a super power! And like all other super powers Google is involved in several controversies – the biggest on in our world would be Google Book Search. I really like the way he referred to the fiasco surrounding this new search. Chris called it “Publishers ‘VCR’ myopia factor” – basically it’s just like the movie industry throwing a fit over VCRs and videotapes – in the end they weren’t bad for the industry – they were good. This search engine is going to bring books to more people and more people (in theory) will be buying books. He also had an interesting theory about why Google was participating in this project – he thinks that Google is training up their computers by letting them “read” the books – teaching it natural language so that it can better search the web – in other words – Google is training up a real live HAL!!!

Overall a great presentation!!

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