Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google doesn't love me.

As an IR researcher, I tend to obsess about why Google can't always deal with my queries. I fall into this bad habit when I have a lot of better things to do with my time and even when I know it is not getting me anywhere.

Today I needed to recall the details of the relationship between Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons so that I could get it just right for a text I was writing. I typed "relationship between wikipedia and wikimedia commons" into the Google search box and was rewarded as my top hit the link on the image pictured at the right. The rest of the list was of the same ilk.

Oh, my gosh, why is Google reacting this way? This is not how I expected by evening to play out! Actually, "relationship" was sort of information that I wanted and "Wikipedia" and "Wikimedia Commons" were the two entities whose relationship I wanted to understand. Wasn't I making myself clear?

Is Google interpreting my named entities being as the source of the information? Is Google trying to tell me something? Such as, I should be reading Wikipedia instead of writing about Wikipedia?

Is Google trying to gently point out to me that I should be doing more image search? Or maybe giving me subtle support for my opinion that there is a very fine line between navigational and transactional queries?

Is Google relating my query to religion in order to express support for my blogpost last month on Search and Spirituality, which was written when I was in rather a strange mood? Does Google want to evoke in me again that vein of reflection?

But there is an alternative to this vein of inquiry: a simply, very plausible explanation. It runs closely along the lines of the now infamous: "He's just not that into you". Google doesn't do what I would anticipate or what would make be satisfied and happy because Google simply doesn't love me. The evidence is there: my information needs remain unmet and my search goals unreached.

Google and I obviously have a relationship problem. It goes beyond my searches on "relationships". But yet, I keep on returning to that tempting search box again and again. Do I have some sort of a genetic predilection with maintaining a dysfunctional relationship with my search engine? At least until I find an alternate outlet that does happen to be "into" me and my information needs.

In the meantime, I guess I can go and find myself a copy of the Gospel of Mark: I never realized that there was so much overlap.