Google’s Caffeine rocks, but don’t shut your eyes to offline information

I’ve been waiting for Caffeine for a long time, since I heard it being mentioned at SMAZ last year. So this week we get a taste of what a caffeinated search looks like.

It’s Caffeine, and it’s finally a way to see real-time information (not archived results).

If you’re concerned about page ranking, keywords, meta-tags and most importantly rich content, it’s worth trying to understand how the complex Google search algorithm works. Not that even the so-called experts know, because there is the secret-sauce factor that Google will not disclose.

However, this video from Google is as far as they will go. serving as a refresher course in search:

But is it that all?

Now while I find Caffeine a terrific improvement, I don’t only rely on (or recommend) Google to deep dive for all information. It’s easy assume that ‘everything’ is out there online, having been spidered and indexed online, when the fact is there are stacks of information you may never see or know exists.

Unless you make a trip to a library!  Or visit bookstores, read journal abstracts –the ones that have not gone digital yet — or scale the walled gardens of subscription-only sites.

So I have two questions to the search experts:

  1. Do real-time search results change how archived content shows up? All those white papers, videos, sample book chapters, podcasts etc. Do they get buried and pushed down away from the main results page?
  2. Is Caffeine –the real-time engine — trying to be Bing –the relevance engine? Or is it the other way around?

I took a screen shot of similar searches for the keywords “Gulf of Mexico” on Google and Bing today. Big differences!

Google Caffeine - search for "Gulf of Mexico" 9 June 2010

Bing search results - "Gulf of Mexico" - 9 June 2010

Take this one from the Associated Press. A story about a reporter who dived into the oily waters in the Gulf. It’s up there on Bing, but not on Google.

The story is probably a good metaphor of how murky it is when you dive into search as well. “I open my eyes and realize my mask is already smeared,” the unnamed reporter says.

Associated Press could learn from Britannica

The attribution war between the Associated Press and bloggers may end somewhat amicably, but the problem is not going away.

Businessweek has called it “an early skirmish in what’s likely to become a protracted war over how and where media content is published online.” Who knows, one day they may involved in one.

The “AP way,” as Jeff Jarvis called it, may go down as trying to establish a top-down business approach in a bottom-up world. Or to put it another way, trying to force ‘monetization’ through the funnel of ‘syndication.’

It’s an odd time to try to lock down content and charge for it. I recently tried out Encyclopedia Britannica (and interviewed Tom Panelas) and came to the conclusion that instead of trying to set up snipers on the ramparts of the walled garden, Britannica has basically decided to create a new type of walled garden –leaving the keys to the entrance under the mat, so to speak. If a 240-year company can recognize the value in collaboration not confrontation, a ‘younger’ content repository like AP could surely follow suit.

If they don’t want to take a leaf from the page of Britannica, how about this experiment by David Balter of BzzAgent? He’s simultaneously selling and giving away (free download) a book called Word of Mouth Manual Volume II.

“Crazy like a fox, that Balter,” says Todd Defren, whose blog PR Squared is one of the venues selected to allow those free downloads.

“Protection is no strategy for the future,” says Jarvis.

“Content wants to lose the handcuffs,” says little old me.