Google Squared rounds out features
More facts in your spreadsheet search thingy...
Google Squared - the experimental web tool that delivers Google search results as a table (because tables rock, that's why) - recently received an update to improve the quality and quantity of data it spits out.
According to Google's blog, when it launched this spring, Squared could only include 30 facts (aka: squares) for each subject searched. Now, the feature can pump out a good 120 (for example, 20 US presidents x 6 attributes).
Google also said the quality of information has been souped up because now its ranking results both on relevance and whether enough accurate information is available on the subject.
Squared results can be sorted and exported to a Google Spreadsheet or CSV file now as well.
Although fun to play with, the ambitious little tool is clearly not ready for, well, whatever it's intended for on a professional level. At publication, Squared seemed a little unsure about some of Canada's prime ministers, and more embarrassingly, sorely lacking the ability to accurately sort Dungeon and Dragons monsters.
Google seems to recognize these shortcomings, but claims Squared demonstrates ways we'll be searching stuff in the not-to-distant land of tomorrow: "There's a lot left to do before Squared is ready to leave Labs — we're still working on improving quality as well as the user interface — but we hope that our recent improvements make it more useful," Google Squared folk wrote in a blog post. "In its experimental stage, Squared demonstrates an important future direction in search: understanding structured data from across the web to build new tools for organizing and presenting information."
We should note that Squared works splendidly for some things — for example 16th century poets — but c'mon, the Displacer Beast hasn't been classified as lawful evil since the 4th edition of D&D. Priorities please, Google! ®
While the "spectre" is classified as undead and the "beholder" is an aberration, the "gnome" is classified as a desktop environment. Now that's an IT angle.
Another excellent result...
Inspired by your article about Google Squared, I wanted to see what this search thingy can tell me about my home country. Searching for Finland I get seven squares of information.The first square contains an image - a crude map of Finland taken from the CIA World Fact Book 2002. Luckily the facts haven't changed that much since 2002. The second square contains a "description" of Finland: surprising or not, the best description Google Squared can find for Finland are the lyrics to the Monty Python song "Finland". The rest of the presented squares (all five of them) contain all the other essential information of my home country: population, currency, national holiday, the amount of Internet hosts and the amount of television broadcast stations. That should cover Finland.
But what about Helsinki, our capital? Google Squared produces three squares of information; first an image - the kind you find on cheap tourist post-cards; then a description, which is a blob of text mined from the "latest news" section of Helsinki University website and not really describing the city in any way; and finally a square informing that Helsinki was "succeeded by Belgrade, Serbia 2008".
Puzzled, I decided to give it one more try. Let's get our beloved president's profile. "Description" and other usual information is mined directly from Wikipedia and is pretty much correct. But "Place of birth" is curiously said to be Tuvalu, a small island state in the Pacific Ocean! Where's this data come from? Clicking on the link takes me to "Uncyclopedia" (http://mirror.uncyc.org/wiki/) which is a joke version of Wikipedia. But hey, Google Squared takes is seriously, maybe I should too?