A 'New' Google Search - Are You a Simpleton?

12 comments

From the G search blog, something new from the Labs - Google Accessible Search - or 'Finding easy-to-read web content'. Shame about the acronym.

Like most of you, when I search the web, I want to find relevant information with a minimal amount of distraction. But because I can't see and I use a device that converts web text to speech, I'm even more in tune with the distractions that can sometimes get in the way of finding the right results. If the information I'm after is on a visually busy page, I have to sort through that page to find the text I want--an extra step that can sometimes be very time-consuming.

So, time to find out if you have elegant, standard, well-constructed and efficient code (or could that just read 'old' code?):

That's why I've been passionate about a project I'm working on at Google called Google Accessible Search. Accessible Search adds a small twist to the familiar Google search: In addition to finding the most relevant results as measured by Google's search algorithms, it further sorts results based on the simplicity of their page layouts. (Simplicity, of course, is subjective in this context.) When users search from the http://labs.google.com/accessible site, they'll receive results that are prioritized based on their usability.

Sure brings up some very different results, and, at a quick glance, returns only 15-20% of the volume that a normal G search yields.

Comments

Tool

And, quick as you like, a side-by-side comparison tool from Google Blogoscoped: Link.

Sight impaired are simpletons?

This is one area of the GoogleSphere I applaud. No evil in this effort.

side-by-side comparison tool doesn't work...

mat, I tried the side-by-side tool, and it doesn't give the same results as going direct to Google Accessible. I'm seeing sponsored links showing up via the tool.

Good idea, though...

And Ironically Enough...

Google Accessible search would not pass accessibility standards...

Sight impaired are simpletons?

Yes, that's absolutely what I meant. Shouldn't be allowed near a computer, let alone a browser.

I meant does Google see your site as 'simple'.

(Edit: I had that Nick Wilson bloke in the back of me cab once.)

Lest we come to blows..

..it might be help to point out what it is intended for.

Quote:
What is Google Accessible Search?

Accessible Search is an early Google Labs product designed to identify and prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and visually impaired users ....

In its current version, Google Accessible Search looks at a number of signals by examining the HTML markup found on a web page. It tends to favor pages that degrade gracefully --- pages with few visual distractions and pages that are likely to render well with images turned off. Google Accessible Search is built on Google Co-op's technology, which improves search results based on specialized interests...

In the past, visually impaired Google users have often waded through a lot of inaccessible websites and pages to find the required information. Our goal is to provide a more useful and accessible web search experience for the blind and visually impaired.

How do you decide which sites are "accessible" and which are not?

Broadly, Google defines accessible websites and pages as content that the blind and visually challenged can use and consume using standard online technology, and we've worked with a number of organizations to determine which websites and pages meet those criteria. Our methods for identifying accessible pages and content are always evolving; Currently we take into account several factors, including a given page's simplicity, how much visual imagery it carries and whether or not it's primary purpose is immediately viable with keyboard navigation.

ulterior motives?

Stepping aside from the visually impaired / accessibility debate, doesn't this add further highlight to Google's desire for web pages to be simple text-based html pages?

A picture is worth a thousand words. An interface can be worth more. But today's search engines depend on text. I say let them fail, so we can advance.

does Google see your site as 'simple'

Quote:
Sight impaired are simpletons?
Yes, that's absolutely what I meant. Shouldn't be allowed near a computer, let alone a browser.

Mat - I'm really not sure why you keep digging this hole.

Why shouldn't blind people, using standard assistive technology, have a search facility which eliminates all the inaccessible 'all the content is in pictures'/ flash/ web 2.0/ ajax stuff - all the things that they can't access anyway?

Why 'find' it if you can't access the content because the content is inaccessible?

Actually - I might start using it myself....

Oh Dear

Irony really doesn't work on screen, it's true.

Simple, as in KISS, as in what John meant above. Leave aside why they're doing it, I was pondering from a purely dispassionate POV what this new algo might make of your code, my code. Never mind.

I think that's why they invented smileys 24 years ago...

Quote:
Because you can't see the person who is sending you electronic
mail you are sometimes uncertain whether they are serious or
joking. Recently, Scott Fahlman at CMU devised a scheme for
annotating one's messages to overcome this problem. If you turn
your head sideways to look at the three characters :-) they look
sort of like a smiling face. Thus, if someone sends you a
message that says "Have you stopped beating your wife?:-)" you
know they are joking. If they say "I need to talk to you :-(",
be prepared for trouble.

Nov 10th, 1982

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sef/Orig-Smiley.htm

Smileys, the laugh-track of the internet

Kind of like the laugh-track to show people where the humor is, eh?

Or the weasel-way of the internet hardman to insult and then claim sympathy because they were "only joking" after all.

Smileys, multiple choice tests, brain-dead article bank users, a weekend bah humbug to all of you...

:-) ;-) :-D ;-P
Geddit? (c. 1965 Glenda Slagg)

Section 508?

I would have thought that "Google Search Accessible" would favor such sites that are compliant with the federal US guidelines section 508 for accessibility. However, they do not, as my quick test showed.

http://conficio.blogspot.com/2006/07/google-offers-search-for-blind.html

So who gets it right? The US government or Google? Should we test now for Google ranking instead?

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