Google Instant – The Third Half Of Your Brain

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at, playing with, and pondering the new Google Instant.

If you haven’t gone to proper in the last couple weeks, I’d highly encourage you to stop by.

Google is now trying to guess what you’re about to search for beginning with a single letter.

For example, typing the letter “w” will instantly give you local weather results.

Most other single letter results produce stores: Best Buy, JCPenney, Netflix, Sears.

Walmart must be seriously bummed to have begun its corporate identity with one of the few letters that people want something other than commerce. You should have planned for Google Instant, Walmart! I bet you feel silly now.

To get Walmart to pop up, you have to type two letters. That’s one too many if you ask me. I’ll only be shopping at single letter Google Instant stores from now on: Target, eBay, and Zappos, for example.

I mean, really. What do you want from me? Now that I think about it, I’m feeling put out that I have to push any button whatsoever. Google knows what I want before I even open my browser. I know it does.

I can’t wait for what I’m sure is coming: Google Instanter. I’ll just open my browser and the store I want will be right there. I’m not sure what that store is at the moment. But I’m not worried. Google knows what store I want. I’ll just wait for Google Instanter to come along so I’ll know what I’m looking for.

On the Google Instant definition page we learn that Google has done a study and determined that “people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page.”

The level of eye-tracking sophistication that must have gone into that study, not to mention the likely massive breadth of test subjects, was extremely advanced and expensive, I’m sure.

But finding out that we are all going to be saving “2-5 seconds per search” is well worth whatever time and money that went into the project.

I mean, seriously, I didn’t even know what I was searching for until I came across Google Instant.

Let’s look at some examples:

If I start typing: “how do,” I get these results:

  • how does fushigi work

That is an excellent question! I don’t even know what fushigi is…much less how it works. If there is something I clearly need to know, it’s how fushigi works. Not knowing this obviously means I’m losing touch with the world.

I was going to type, “how do I…” Shoot, now I totally forgot what I was going to search for. Whatever it was, it’s not nearly as important as my new found interest in fushigi. Thanks Google! I was leading a partial life existence until Instant came along.

Oh! How about this search: “why can’t.”

This is my latest curiosity and interest (before fushigi but way after I had to type entire words): “Why can’t I own a Canadian?”

I will admit, I used to never have the interest, much less, the gall, to think about owning a Canadian. But they do, after all, live in our geographic attic. And I am an “American” (which, even though Canadians live on the continent of North America, have no business calling themselves such), so why can’t I own a Canadian?

That’s a life pursuit that I just never would have thought of until Google Instant came along.

I’m not sure exactly where I’ll start my Canadian-owning pursuit. But I’m not worried. Google Instant will get me through the steps like an algorithmic oracle…delicately sidestepping all irrelevant sites and effortlessly guiding me through the process in a way that I would have never imagined.

I also like typing in random letters.

Did you know that: “sdls” is actually “Antarctic Seismic Data Library System (SDLS)”.

Then, when I type: “slfgd,” Google asks, “Did you mean: slgfd?”

Oh, silly me. Of course I did!

It then gives me the Instant result for what I “meant”: SLGFD (Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile P8600)

Thanks Google! Not only am I lazy, but I also don’t always know exactly what I mean.

P.S. The title of this column comes from a quote from Sergey Brin at the launch of Google Instant. This is why Google is the empire it is. Only Google can create a third “half.” But I definitely feel this third half growing. Honestly, I’m pretty sure it will be my better half (of the three halves I have).

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