Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Searching . . .

Google released today (in beta) a new service: Google Video. Basically, what they've done is indexed closed-captioning text from recent television programming. Then you can do searches for programs on which those words appeared (assuming that the closed-captioner spelled them correctly-- not always a safe assumption to make!). Google isn't offering actual video clips (yet), however-- it just reports when the program aired, provides still images, and the closed-caption transcripts.

Yahoo, apparently, also has a new program, Yahoo Video Search, which is not quite the same in that it does offer video clips found from across the web (and soon to include BBC and Bloomberg news clips)

These are both in their infancies and it's not clear what sort of and what degree of content will eventually be available through these searches, and what sort of DRM will be slapped on them. But, it's yet another interesting development in the convergences, collusions, and collisions between television and the internet. I'm curious to see how and where these develop. If you find yourself using either of these tools, let me know what and why you're using them.

Link: "Yahoo, Google Expand Searches" (LA Times; reg. req.)

Another search-related story also caught my eye this week. The Pew Internet Project has released yet another interesting report. Over the past few years , they've released a plethora of survey results, documenting Internet usage (and nonusage) patterns as they are developing in the U.S. While some of the results simply give firm numbers to back up general impressions, a number of their results have surprised me somewhat. This newest study, looking at people's attitudes about web searches, was no exception. The tag line of the report reads, "Internet searchers are confident, satisfied, and trusting-- but they are also unaware and naive."

Only 38% of users are aware of the distinction between paid or ?sponsored? results and unpaid results. And only one in six say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not. This finding is ironic, since nearly half of all users say they would stop using search engines if they thought engines were not being clear about how they presented paid results.
As someone who's only half- joking when she says that she can't imagine life without googling, this just served as a good reminder to me not to overestimate the web-savvy of most people. (Though apparently 92% of respondents said they feel confident in their searching abilities.)

And speaking of life without google:

But about one third of internet searchers, 32%, say they can?t live without search engines. They are a different breed of searcher?a more high-powered group who work the engines harder and more seriously. They are more likely to be: male, young, better educated, of higher income, and to have been online for more years than others. Compared with other users, they search more often and they search for more information that they consider important to them. They consider themselves more successful and more confident at searching. They also know more about the workings of search engines: they have heard about the distinction between paid and unpaid results and they are more likely to be able to distinguish between the two types.

Such trends will be increasingly important to follow. For, digital divides, such as they are today, may become less and less about divisions in simple access to the internet and more and more about knowledge of how to get things from and through it (or, I suppose, make contributions to it.) (Eszter Hargittai has published a couple of relevant studies, in this vein: One conceptualizing the digital divide broadly, "Digital Divide: From Unequal Access to Differentiated Use" and the other looking specifically at web searching, "Do You Google?: Understanding Search Engine Use Beyond the Hype")

Link: Pew Report: Search Engine Users (pdf)


Blogger Bob said...

what i'd be really interested in is to see what kinds of videos people will be googling. i've always said that the thing that people do the most on the internet, and by extension the thing that the internet is best for is the distribution and consumption of porn. i can't imagine that google had this specifically in mind when they put this thing together, but you know they understood that this would be one of the main draws.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Molly Moloney said...

Well, there's certainly a history of the porn industry being at the forefront of the development or at least deployment of new media-- from the VCR to web pages and e-commerce, for example. This particular type of google search, however, wouldn't necessarily be ripe for such a use, since the videos that they are indexing are specifically based on closed captioned television. And somehow I don't think there's a lot of closed-captioning going on over at the Spice Channel. Then again, what do I know?

8:16 PM  

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