Google Instant – Changing Kids’ Lives


I have been thinking more and more about the behavior modifications which are likely to come as a result of the new Google Instant.  Whereas Google positions their technology as an assistant to the search process, I wonder if it ends up acting as a drain on creativity.

The feedback loop which they have created is certain to have impact on search terms people type in.  I read somewhere that 20% of the searches at Google have never been seen before.  I need to track down source on that, but if that *was* true, I wonder if that is *still* true now that the search results page updates in real time.  Further compounding the potential loss of serendipitous searching is the reduced suggestion list.  A searcher is only presented with 4 real choices.  Will people continue to have flights of search fancy?

Despite the fact that the results are based, presumably, on the most likely search terms, will people tire of the lack of diversity?  I wonder what type of world my children will have when they are programmed from youth to believe that what Google suggests is “the most likely” or “most popular” search query.  Will they limit their choices because of the massive constraints placed on their minds by the manifestation of the information as presented by Google?

With this insistence on showing you only what’s popular, is Google running to a model not too dissimilar from Top40 radio programming?  I find that strange given how consumers have opted for the long tail model access to music via services like iTunes and Zune Pass.  I have discovered a ton of great artists in the last couple of years, and haven’t listened to Top40 radio in ages.  I don’t even know what’s on Top40 anymore, but I do have a ZuneHD full of awesome music.

Helping me find what I want is great.  Insisting that what I want is a narrow list is not.

  • Peter

    Google is offering 4 suggestions, not just 4 options. I often ignore the suggestions, because I know what I want to search for.

    On the other hand, sometimes I take a suggestion that is close to or matches what I intend to search for because I assume their suggestion will give me the results I'm looking for.

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