"Dumbing" Down Search: Bing vs. Google

When looking for information on the Web, what search service do you turn to these days? Are you still a diehard Google fan and feel most comfortable with pages of popular links based on loosely associated keywords that can be tweaked by advance search form, which you can then follow to find more information and, ultimately, your “best” answer? Do you scan the source of those links on the Google results page to make your own assessments as to the potential veracity of the information excerpted? Do you seesaw back and forth between results page and linked sites until you are satisfied that you have the skinny?

Or, would you rather just get an answer and run? If you fall into this growing category of on-line searchers, then maybe Microsoft’s search upstart Bing is your answer.

Paul Boutin at VentureBeat offers the observation that Google’s search methodology is quickly becoming obsolete and that Bing is offering the better option for today’s searchers:. In Boutin’s own words “[i]n short, the people who use search engines today are nothing like the people who build them. Online, the normals have finally displaced the geeks.” His bullet points encapsulate the new search mentality:

  • Don’t give me a link to the answer. Just give me the answer.
  • Pictures are better than words.
  • I’m totally fine with getting search results from a Microsoft database of multimedia celebrity flash cards instead of from the entire Internet, if it tells me what I want to know

Bing meets these needs beautifully and has garnered ten percent of search traffic in the approximately 6 months it has been in business. From canned “cards” prepared by Bing-heads for frequently searched topics to answers pulled directly from Wikipedia, searches can easily “click and run” with their answers on Bing.

Google, concededly, requires a bit more effort. But Google offers the opportunity to view many different answers to a particular query and weigh the results based on the strength of the site from which the information is pulled.

I definitely see a place for both strategies in the search arena. But much like yesterday’s diatribe on the use of Wikipedia (never in a court room), searchers need to be cognizant of what they are getting and consider when the extra effort is necessary. Like Boutin, I sincerely hope that Google does not bow to the peer pressure and “dumb down” search. I still get a pitter patter in my heart when I see services like Wolfram/Alpha and the various semantic search tools providing yet another angle on the information. Because, as we all know, rarely is there one single true answer to any question, even the query: how do I get from Gloucester to Boston? There are still geeks out there like me who want to be shown the how and why of it.

You can call me the Norm Abrams of Search.

In a (barely) related note, I came across an interesting new bookmarking service this morning called Faviki. Like Delicious, it allows you to collect and tag your bookmarked sites. Unlike Delicious, it offers suggested tags based on semantic overlay. Unfortunately, the semantic overlay is from Wikipedia, as this still remains the largest repository of common information on the Web. Nonetheless, it is an interesting application of semantic technology and may be worth a try. Particularly since it now allows for importing your huge library of Delicious bookmarks.


2 comments on “"Dumbing" Down Search: Bing vs. Google

  1. Pingback: Paid Content : Inside Word: Bing Is 'Dumbing Down' Search

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