Cup of Joe: Google Is Turning Into the Jonas Brothers and I Don’t Like It

Yeah that’s right Google is turning into a pop-culture boy band. Soon adolescent girls from across the country will be giggling and blushing at the sight of the Google logo. Okay maybe not, but one thing is for certain, Google is starting to make important decisions based on superficial trends that have little relationship with the fundamentals of search technology or information retrieval.

A few weeks ago I wrote about iconic graphic designer Paul Rand. Rand, was one of the first to combine modern artistic thought with business strategy. In 1992, Rand, resigned his position at Yale University in protest of the University hiring a “postmodern feminist designer.” Now before we start calling names and making assumptions over Rand’s decision it’s important to understand why Paul Rand was opposed to postmodern feminist design.

Shortly after his departure Rand wrote a very convincing argument against modern trends (via) in academia and design. At the heart of Rand’s paper he describes trendiness as a huge distraction from the fundamentals of graphic design. He points to things such as the use of graffiti as frivolous and unproductive. Rand understands the difference between art and design. Art is meant to make a statement about the world we live in. Design is meant to communicate a message. Rand understood that postmodern feminism makes a statement but can not communicate a brand’s message.

Just as trends in design can distract from the fundamentals of communication, so too can trends in social media distract from the fundamentals of information retrieval. For the last 6 or 7 months we have seen Google roll out a gamut of new features based solely on trends in social media. These trends are short-lived distractions that don’t add to long-term improvements in search technology. In essence, these new features are like what the Jonas Brothers are to rock ‘n roll – a brief distraction from the fundamentals.

Top Three Google Social Media Distractions.

Real-Time Search Integration
From the beginning the integration of real-time data into the search results has led many to worry about the inclusion of spam in the results. This concern has proven itself to be valid which may be one reason that the vast majority users completely ignore the real-time search data. As a result this feature has turned into another element of clutter in the SERPs.

Apparently, after failing to successfully integrate real-time data as described above, Google decided it needed its own real-time network. Since then Buzz has proven to be an unproductive social network. Buzz in fact creates more duplicate content than original. This stands in strong contrast to search technology’s goal of finding unique data.

Social Search
The social search integration is an attempt to utilize users unique social network to find relevant results. However this feature makes the dangerous assumption that my friends are the best people to ask for help. I like most of the people I engage in social media but will freely admit that the vast majority of the time I would not turn to them when needing research done.

All of the features above are social media distractions from Google’s stated mission statement, “to organize the world’s information”. If Google continues to launch frivolous social features that do not add functionality and increase the productivity of its general search capabilities, they could potentially alienate a historically dedicated user base.

In short Google needs to quit acting like the Jonas Brothers and more like Aerosmith.