Feeds

It's Time that Google forgot

Time's up for timeless UI design

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

C0mm3nt Shares in United Airlines crashed last month, and trading in the stock was suspended, after a glitch in the Google Matrix.

The FT noted that "a false report that the carrier had returned to bankruptcy court surfaced on the internet. A six-year-old Chicago Tribune story on United’s 2002 bankruptcy filing, spotted on a Google search yesterday morning by an investment newsletter, triggered a massive sell-off of the carrier’s shares until trading was halted. United had refuted a report by late morning in New York, but not before the stock lost more than 75 per cent of its value."

Google won’t adopt the normal US solution to stupidity by stickering its front page with warnings that anticipate every possible basis for litigation; but, given the rate at which “information” is accumulating, this kind of snafu is likely to happen more and more often. So, if Google’s mission is indeed “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, then finding new ways to integrate time into search results will necessarily become an increasingly important aspect of fulfilling that mission.

Google now delegates timestamps for indexed pages to archive.org (through the “history” link in search results) and embedding them in the visible header of cached pages; but for a can-do company busy underwriting new spy satellites, laying submarine cables, providing satellite connectivity in equatorial regions, etc, etc, sidestepping the comparatively simple question of when a webpage was created smacks of avoidance.

In any event, Google knows very well how rarely people actually click on the cache and history links in ways that would suggest they’re trying to establish the historical context of a page. So, while incredibly useful for a few, the presence of the cache and history links carries the familiar scent of a popular corporate risk-avoidance strategy: devolving risk to the consumer.

But, as United and its investors have seen, the problem comes when that consumer is in a position - for example, through network effects - to cause major, distributed trouble. This is a shared problem, and the tacit appeal to the lowest common denominator that pervades talk about UI design is no refuge from it, particularly for a firm whose reach cuts across myriad demographic lines.

Two things Google could do to address the problem of outdated “information”. Firstly, it could include an explicit timestamp in the search results block. Secondly, Google could expand its advanced search criteria to include start and end time-delimiters, rather than just predefined options for how “recent” results are.

These two things could go a long way toward minimizing the kind of error that led to the UA fiasco - and, more positively, advancing Google’s stated mission. ®

B1ff logo This article was originally published at the b1ff blog.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.