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Google Instant and the Next Wave of Online Innovation

You may have heard about the release of Google Instant last week… and if you did, you probably didn’t think it was a big deal.
For those of you who haven’t heard about it, here is a brief description of Google Instant:
When you go to Google.com, and begin to type in the search bar, Google tries to guess what you are looking for based on other searches people have done. With this new release, there are two basic changes. First, Google starts guessing as soon as you press the first letter of your search. The second change is a bit more significant. Google used to look at all the searches made on their search engine—now they are using information specific to YOU, rather than their average user. Google knows what you have searched for in the past, and Google knows where you are; these are two key factors when guessing about what you are looking for. You will get different search suggestions than the person sitting next to you—even if you typed in the exact same letter(s). What’s more is their search will continue to evolve, and become even more personalized.
By itself, Google Instant probably isn’t hugely significant to most—but this upgrade does bring to the forefront a change in the evolution of the web. Google is one of the trendsetters in today’s web-scape; as they announce big releases, other companies tend to follow their lead.
Storing information about users, commonly know as Data Mining, isn’t a new concept at all; and using all that data isn’t new either. Grocery stores have been doing this using “club cards” for almost as long as I can remember—printing out coupons for each customer based on their current and previous purchases. When you are drooling over a new pair of boots at Amazon.com, they suggest other items you might like, based on what other people who drooled over the same boots also looked at, as well as what you’ve looked at or even purchased from them in the past. Facebook allows anyone with a “business” page to create ads, and place them in front of specific users and demographics based on pretty much anything a user shares in their profile.
Big companies (and big websites) always knew that user data was important, and many collected as much as they could get their hands on… but Google is among the first company to start using the data to enrich the user experience—rather than helping out their sales.
Sure Google is still going to use the data they have to help out their advertisers reach the right demographics, but as a search engine it is Google’s job to help you find what you are looking for, as quickly and accurately as possible. Are you going to use the search engine that seems to read your mind? Or the one that reads everyone else's?  
Many people have already dubbed this “smarter, proactive web” trend as Web 3.0—the next phase, the next big thing; but no matter what you call it, data mining and the use of the mined data has already hit the masses and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon.  In the near future, we can expect to see all this data that has been mined over the years being put to use. Anyone who hasn’t been mining the data of their users/visitors is likely to start. Soon.  
There is no doubt that we will see our data used most often as a marketing tool, but we’ll also see quite a few productivity increasing tools emerge.  With all the information we now have available at our finger tips, tools are being created to help you get to “the good stuff” (and those cute boots) faster, with less clicks and keystrokes. The web will soon be personalized, tailor made to fit every individual user’s needs. 
Are you ready?

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12:30 PM - Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - comments {1} - post comment
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