Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What do I want from a search engine?

My manager and I were having a conversation today about his experiences trying to book flights online. It took ages, because he had to explore each of the returns on his search parameters, and in many cases, he would be several minutes into the process of booking the flights with a provider that was £30 cheaper than the competition, only to find, that, as he worked through the process, the price increased with the addition of all sorts of hidden costs. Back to the search results and down to the next provider listed. Is their price higher or lower than the last one? Higher? Move on. Lower? Start the process of booking the flights, and watch the costs rise as the process continues.

Time was once when you (or your secretary if you were Very Important) would phone 3 or 4 travel agents and book your flight with the cheapest one. Now there are just too many providers to speak to individually. But tell me how the process that my boss had to go through was so very different.

Now I have deliberately not yet looked at or taken on board anything about Google Chrome before getting this off my chest, so I have no idea whether or not it represents a step (or the whole journey) in this direction, but what I want is search engine that can do all that blarge for me.

I get the opportunity to fill in my requirements, and the search engine not only trawls the net for flights to wherever whenever, but checks how they stack up against each other for two adults with X suitcases and such-and-such other specifications. Rather than just skimming across the top to match words required with words included in the content (Google my name and see how many returns include the name 'Karyn' and the words 'Rome is'), it dips down into the content to see if the match meets the specified requirements in a meaningful way.

So much for cloud cuckoo land. Now I shall go and see what Chrome is all about! Is it as shiny as the name suggests?


Matthew said...

At this point in time while Google Chrome has some interesting features . . . it has a long way to go before it could replace firefox for me. It will be interesting to watch the development over the upcoming months.

Once concern is the terms of the EULA . . . The terms include a section giving Google “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesn’t it?

I think that this clause has since been updated . . .

Thanks for the wonderful blog Karyn

Gavin Cooney said...

karyn, I think what you're looking for is

The upsycho said...

@gavin - that would help if the only thing I wanted that level of support on was flights, but I only used that as an example. I want my search engine to be able to apply that compare and contrast algorithm all the time!