As I was checking out the news about Microsoft’s new “Bing” search engine (which is pretty slick, as you’d imagine), I came across the latest from Google – Google Squared, “a search tool that helps you quickly build a collection of facts from the Web for any topic you specify.” The concept is kind of cool: you put in some terms and get a grid that includes various information related to the topic entered. Works pretty well for some of the suggested searches, such as “precious gems.”
Things get a little weird when you start ranging beyond the canned searches. For instance, put in “Harvard” and get – in the ten items that make up the initial “square “- George W. Bush, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) and Peter Benchley (author of Jaws), along with their dates and places of birth, spouses (if any) and an image. The University itself does not appear. Change the search to “Harvard University.” You still don’t get Harvard University, but now you get a different cast of characters including John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Conan O’Brien. Okay, I know – it’s beta. No doubt Google Squared will improve or die – but while it’s still weird, I can see how it could be hours (or at least half-hours) of fun!