Last year we launched localized Google Suggest by country, offering relevant popular search queries tailored for different regions. However, just as people in the U.K. often look for different things than people in U.S., we’ve found that people in Seattle tend to look for different things than people in Dallas. So last week, we rolled out a version of Google Suggest that is tailored to specific metro areas in the U.S.
Here is a picture of how this search may play out. Of course, if you were really searching for Bart Simpson or your business contact Bart Smith this could be a bit annoying.
As for clearing up the issue of not being able to spell names accurately Google is helping searchers there as well. By attaching more descriptive information to a name search to help people sift through the many different search results that could come up around names. In particular this is designed to help with names that have many possible misspellings. Google tells us more.
Our new technology is based on the concept that people often know something else about the person besides the approximate spelling of his name. People often include other terms such as “composer” or “lawyer sparta wisconsin” in their search query, which provides valuable context to help us narrow the range of possibilities for the spelling correction. We use these additional descriptive words to offer you better suggestions. Some examples: [matthew devin oracle], [yuri lehner stanford], [simon tung machine learning]. With these improvements you’ll start seeing more useful spell corrections for names.
For now this enhancement is available in our English spelling system in the U.S. We’ll be rolling out the change to other parts of the world and other languages in the coming months.
The last enhancement announced by Google is that now correct spellings in the vein of “Did you mean?” are being presented in 31 languages.
I can see the benefits of all of these options. I don’t know about you, but I also get a little creeped out by them. If Google continues to try to “read our minds” and anticipate our intentions what will happen to folks in the future who never had the time to develop their own abilities without Google in the world? Will this produce someone who becomes so dependent on technology to “do the thinking” or will they simply be better and more advanced more quickly? Since most people seek the easy way out for things I suspect Google’s ability to “finish our thoughts” will have very mixed results in making people more effective. Maybe that’s Google’s motive so that folks become SO dependent on them that they can’t function well otherwise. That kind of dependence on any system could go a long way toward making advertisers happy because then their audience is truly captive. Creepy.