Recent Design News surveys show that Google is the favorite search engine for design engineers who are looking for technical information. Here is what Google is doing to deserve that vote of confidence—and to keep engineers coming back.
It's a derivative of a mathematical term, googol, meaning one followed by one-hundred zeros. A googol is a big number and there isn't anything that big in the universe, so it shows that we want to provide an infinite amount of information.
Why do engineers find Google, a general-interest search engine, so useful?
Probably because of our heritage. We began four years ago as a project in the computer science department at Stanford University's engineering school, so engineering was the cultural orientation from the beginning. Actually, we have several engineers on the team who write the algorithms we use. All of them are software engineers today, but many started as MEs or EEs. So, we have an engineering-heavy culture.
How do you structure the search engine to respond to engineering queries?
We don't do that specifically. We write general-purpose algorithms that work well for a lot of purposes, whether you want recipes or technical information.
Okay, then how do you decide what sites to link to?
We look at the reputation of sites on the Internet and we look at who else links to a site, and then we come up with a page ranking. Get a high ranking and we are likely to link to you.
Are you considering adding equations so engineers can do mathematical-function searches?
No, we don't have any plans to do that. For everything we do, we have to consider the cost. We do have a special page, however, for making very specific inquiries. It's called our Advanced-Search page.
How are you going to make Google better?
Sorry, we don't talk about products under development. But you could get an idea of our future by checking out our playground, http://labs.google.com, where we put up things we are experimenting with. For example, we're experimenting there with a voice-search capability where you could just tell your computer your query rather than type it. Also on the labs site we're experimenting with a glossary of technical terms and a new way to navigate searches.
What do you use Google for?
I use it for technical research, but also for finding song lyrics and directions to places I want to go.
So what enhancements would you like to see?
I would like to see us get more specific, get deeper. We've got 3 billion pages in our web index and we're always expanding that, but I would like to develop more specific products for more specific searches.