Google's Current Offerings

Google's web search (https://www.google.com/) covers over 3 billion pages. In addition to HTML pages, Google's web search also









indexes PDF, Postscript, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Rich Text Format (RTF). Google's web search also offers some syntaxes that find specific information, like stock quotes and phone numbers, but we'll save that for later in the tutorial.

    [Tip #29]
  • The Google Directory (http://directory.google.com/) is a searchable subject index based on The Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org). As it indexes sites (not pages), it's much smaller than the web search but better for general searches. Google has applied its popularity algorithm to the listings so that more popular sites rise to the top.
  • [Tip #30]
  • Usenet is a worldwide network of discussion groups. Google Groups (http://groups.google.com/) has archived Usenet's discussions back 20 years in some places, providing an archive that offers over 700 million messages.
  • [Tip #31]
  • Google Images (http://images.google.com/) offers an archive of over 330 million images culled from sites all over the web. Images range from icon sized to wallpaper sized, with a variety of search engines for homing in on the closest one.
  • [Tip #32]
  • Google News (http://news.google.com/) is still in beta at the time of this writing. It checks over 4,000 sources for news and updates the database once an hour. Google News is different from most other search engines in that it "clusters" headlines on its front page into similar topics.
  • [Tip #33]
  • Searching print mail-order catalogs probably isn't the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Google, but you can do it here. Google Catalogs (http://catalogs.google.com/) has digitized and made available catalogs in a dozen different categories. If you don't see your favorite catalog here, you can submit it for possible consideration.
  • [Tip #34]
  • Google Catalogs is a great way to do offline shopping, especially if you like to browse with nothing more than a couple of keywords. However, if you're the modern type who insists on doing all your shopping online, you'll want to check out Froogle (http://froogle.google.com/). Froogle, a combination of the words "Google" and "frugal," is a searchable shopping index that looks a lot like the Google Directory with a focus on getting you right to an online point of purchase for the item you're interested in. The service was launched in December 2002 and, at the time of this writing, is still in beta.
  • [Tip #35]
  • There's no telling what you'll find at Google Labs (http://labs.google.com/); it's where Google parks their works-in-progress and lets the general public play with `em. At the time of this writing, you'll find a way to search Google via phone, a glossary search, keyboard navigation, and a search that allows you to create a set of similar words from a few search results.
  • Google Answers

    Google's search engine is all about clever computing, but Google Answers (http://answers.google.com/) is all about smart folks. Independent Google Answers answer questions for a price set by the person asking the questions. Sources used are restricted to open web collections, and Google is building a database of the answers. If the service keeps up, this offering will be very large and very cool in a year or so.

    Topic-Specific Search

    Google's Topic-Specific Search (https://www.google.com/advanced_search) provides some narrowed views of its index along various lines and topics, including:

    Google of the Future - Google Shopping?

    Google's a private company, and as such the public isn't privy to their financial status. But it's been said they're profitable now, even though they haven't delved too deeply into that holy grail of online companies: e-commerce.

    Considering Google's unique way of doing things, it should come as no surprise that their way of getting into shopping online was just as contrary as their other many innovations. Instead of building a mall or online catalogs as many other search engines have attempted, Google took their search technology and used it to make a excellent search engine of products from offline, paper catalogs.

    And in some ways, it's much more effective than online catalogs. It's easier to read the paper catalogs, something you're used to doing if you have a physical mailbox. And if you're on a broadband connection, you can flip through them quickly. Google gathered enough of them together that you can find a wide range of products easily.

    Though Google offers many specialty searches, I'm focusing on this one to make a point: Google seems to take a sideways approach to search innovation (and that's not meant as pejorative). They might decide to join in when other search engines are offering certain features, but always with their own particular twist on the offering. Seeing how they handled the idea of online shopping with the Google Catalogs collection might give you a glimpse into Google's future.

    Google in the 2010s

    Speaking of the future, you've already gotten a peek at the sorts of things they're exploring in Google Labs. Google Labs is a playground for Google engineers to experiment with new ideas and new technology. It was also one of the most difficult things to write up in the tutorial, because it's likely that it'll change between now and the time you hold this tutorial in your hands.

    But pay attention to what's there. Check out the voice search and see how large a list you can generate with the Google Sets. These ideas might be integrated into search syntaxes or specialty searches later on, and if you can come up with some interesting ways of using them now, you're that much ahead of the search engine game.

    Google's already got plenty of search collection offerings, and they're not going to get anything but more extensive! In the meantime, browse through this section for an introduction to what Google has now.