Putting Bing and Google to a taste test

John
John Gushue
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If you haven't noticed, Microsoft would really like you to use Bing, its new search engine. It's spending, according to some estimates, as much as $100 million to make the case that Bing is better than Google. (I'm tempted to tell you to Google the address for Bing, but here it is: Bing.com.)

I've tried Bing, and can't complain, but here's the rub: how can you honestly know which does the better job?

Surf's up - If you haven't noticed, Microsoft would really like you to use Bing, its new search engine. It's spending, according to some estimates, as much as $100 million to make the case that Bing is better than Google. (I'm tempted to tell you to Google the address for Bing, but here it is: Bing.com.)

I've tried Bing, and can't complain, but here's the rub: how can you honestly know which does the better job?

Blind Search

blindsearch.fejus.com/

Well, here's one way: Blind Search lets you conduct the same search through Google and Bing, as well as Yahoo! (Remember them?) Type in a word or phrase, and see three sets of results. The clever bit? You don't know which one is which, because the logos have been removed. They don't call it the search engine taste test for nothing.

There are of course no right answers, as each user picks which search results appear to be the best.

I just tried about 15 different queries - proper names, words to define, musicians, random thoughts. With most arrays of results, I noticed that the range actually wasn't that dramatic: the same basic sets of information came back, just sometimes arranged in a different order. I was also surprised that I picked the Yahoo! set at all, not to mention four times. Of the remaining 11, I picked Google six times, with newcomer Bing getting five. In all honesty, the numbers could be different if I did it all again tomorrow, as with a few of them, there was no clear winner indeed.

This is good and bad news for Bing. Good, because it shows they're in the game; bad, because Microsoft's marketing campaign is based on tapping into a feeling of "what am I doing wrong?" that many searchers feel when they don't find quite what they want. Granted, my search terms were generic, but in none of the arrays did I see a startling departure.

Bottom line: Try Bing. You've got nothing to lose but a slight amount of time.

Twitter's big week

Who would have thought the Iranian election, of all things, would convince people of the value of Twitter. The Twitter buzz has turned off plenty of people, inspired no end of jokes, but all that seemed stupid when throngs took to the street this week to protest the supposed landslide that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.

Here's why: the revolution may not get to be televised (news crews had their gear confiscated, and many were ejected), but thanks to ubiquitous use of cellphones, it's being Tweeted. And retweeted far away, as countless thousands of Twitter subscribers have become caught up with real-time developments in a way that has really never existed before.

The Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 proved the value of the fax machine. You may remember how people around the world sent messages of support and of news, often randomly, to machines across China.

This week proved the value of Twitter. How much so? Twitter postponed its scheduled maintenance earlier this week, because the time it picked may have been the middle of the night in North America, but was prime time in Iran. The move came from pressure from many users and, reportedly, no less than the U.S. State Department.

So, Twitter went dark instead early Tuesday evening (our time), which no doubt aggravated North Americans. In Iran, where it was the wee hours of Wednesday, I'm sure the democratically minded Tweeters were grateful.

Elsewhere this week:

Multicolr

labs.ideeinc.com/multicolr

That spelling is no typo. Multicolr is inspired by Flickr, the wildly popular photo sharing network. The appeal here: find photos that share one thing in common ... the same hue. Click on a grade of colour, and no doubt be dazzled by the similarly shaded shots that come back.

Matador Pulse

matadorpulse.com/

Matador Pulse covers travel the way that, say, The Economist covers finance. It's also a treat to look at, and fun to read; more than once I've had the whim to want to pack my bags, just from looking at some of the sumptuous spreads.

Don't Gross Out the World

www.fekids.com/img/kln/flash/DontGrossOutTheWorld.swf

Speaking of travel, here's a quiz that kids of any age can enjoy. It's all about dining manners, and how they vary from one country to the next. Bon appetit.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: twitter.com/JohnGushue.

Organizations: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! U.S. State Department

Geographic location: Iran, Tiananmen Square, China North America St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Binging
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I binged the word google. It returned exactly 1 result. Ahh, I think I'll pass.

  • Binging
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I binged the word google. It returned exactly 1 result. Ahh, I think I'll pass.