Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Google + Del.icio.us = Search Context

I very randomly ran across this DM News article about adding context to search results and thought I’d share. (I was actually at a photo shoot and told to look busy, so I picked up the latest issue of DM News that happened to be sitting there and turned to this article.) The article suggests that search engines should add some additional bit of context to results to help users find what they’re looking for faster. What kind of context you ask?

Well, Glenn Barnett, the article’s author was kind enough to answer:

What is navigational context? Navigational context, also known as faceted browsing, enhances the search process by letting users provide additional information to a search input. Consider two cases in which a user is searching for shoes. In the first case, the user enters the term “Nike� in a search box. In the second, the user sees an area of the page marked “brand� with a set of hyperlinks for brands such as Adidas, Converse and Nike, and then clicks the link for Nike. In this second case, the application derives much more value from the input, as it knows not only what term the user wants to search for (i.e., Nike), but in which context to search for it (i.e., brand).

Now, tell me what that sounds like to you . . .

If you answered “tags,” you win!

Back at the beginning of May I wrote this:

What if you added tags to search to add that kind of context that’s missing? Say you search for “Java,” then when you get your results on the right side of the page are tabs with the most popular tags for the pages you returned (minus the most popular, which would most likely be your search term). Say the top tag is “programming,” followed by “language” and then “coffee” (I just totally made that up). Now, if you click one of those tabs you can filter the results to only see those pages with the term “java” and the tag “coffee.” That means the results should be a lot more accurate.

Imagine if you will that Google were to buy del.icio.us. Wouldn’t be that crazy, right? After all, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” [Italics are mine.] Now, every time you search Google it shows you your results with some refinement options based on the most popular tags associated with the group of results the search returns. Do you have your own del.icio.us account? Well, then it can make your searches more accurate by returning results based on your tagging patterns.

Yeah, it’s far fetched, and Google probably isn’t buying del.icio.us anytime soon. But it does kind of make sense, doesn’t it?

Just an idea I had as I sat in the background of a photo shoot.

June 15, 2005