Have you ever realized how many times you use Google search every single day? No? Get prepared to be amazed if you navigate to Google web history and click on ‘trends’. In my account, for example, Google has already tracked 23,025 searches, an average of about 45 queries per day. Sounds like a lot, right? And you may say it actually is, for a rudimentary service that has almost remained unchanged since its introduction 10 years ago and ‘just provides relevant results to search queries’. Well, let me argue that it’s not; at least for users being slightly smarter than dumb. Let me elaborate the reason.
Google, except from being relevant, is also fast. And speed is a matter of utter importance, if not the most significant one. Yes, it’s faster to search the web than your hard disk, enter arithmetic calculations or find word definitions into your browsers’ search box rather than opening a calculator or a dictionary, search for ‘wikipedia silvereye’ and feel lucky, instead of navigating to wikipedia’s homepage and finding your way from there; it keeps going. It should be by now apparent, Google turns out to be a launcher -over time and the more you use it-, next to its default search functionality, the recent Chrome browser being the most ubiquitous proof.
Turning back to my personal experiences -I bet they sound familiar- what I realize is that more and more often I enter longer queries and I don’t even click on any of the search results; Google web history comes again into support and reveals that this is the case for roughly half of my very recent queries. So, why is that, has Google become less relevant? No, not at all. It appears that I’m just looking for something else, which turns out to be different than any of the specific results. And that is their total number. The total number of results returned by a query in Google might look worthless, and it actually is when considered in an absolute sense. But, move that to a relative setting -aka comparing the results of two or more search queries- and yet you have a fantastic tool for a wide variety of purposes, powerful while elegant on its simplicity. Feeling unsafe about two potential spellings of a word? Run a query for both of them and select the one with the most results. Wanna pick a product and you don’t know which of the reviews to trust? Search for “productname good” and “productname bad” and find out how many people have written about the first versus the second, that will probably turn out to be a more sincere advice, at least worth of the time you spent for the ‘survey’.
Well, to be honest and while speaking of time spent, the concept is fantastic, but its implementation is not-so-fast. Needing to iterate the search process a couple of times or more and then remembering the specific number of results that Google returned each time is a process that could profoundly be improved. And the conception was common and clear in a recent Open Coffee Athens meeting, when my co-founder Efthimios Mpothos, our good friend Dimitris Athanasiadis and I were talking about how each one of us utilizes Google in daily practice: Why don’t we optimize the process by ourselves?
So, today we are happy enough to introduce you a tiny tool, result of limited effort and time, but potentially able to make you reconsider the value a couple of google queries can offer you. And while we cannot claim of reinventing the wheel (clearly, there are many wheels out there), we do think that our app is slick and simple, next to cute and time and attention efficient. It’s name? Well, each group of searches serves as an attempt to outsource a task, ranging from a quick spell checker task, to an elementary poll, to a basic sentiment analysis tool, or to whatever else you can imagine it being serving of. And, particularly, this is an attempt to outsource this task to Google, essentially to outsource it to the web-at-large. So, let it be named WebSource.it, and that’s the name of it.
Yes, by now you may navigate to http://websource.it, enter up to 5 terms separated by a Tab stroke and hit enter: What you’ll get is just the number of relevant Google search results, as provided by the Google API. And you may rest on the shoulders of the crowds to select the term with the most results, highlighted with green. Or, as an another uber-fast option for you “big-guys-who-don’t-click”, you may enter websource.it/search/term1/term2 to get your results directly, without leaving the address bar.
We hope it will be useful for you, at least as it was proved to be for us so far and we do await for your own very innovative uses.