Life without Google Day 1: The Ask experiment

Life without Google Day 1: The Ask experiment

Summary: Has Google become so ingrained in our lives that we can't live without it? There's only one way to find out: Stop using Google for a few weeks.

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TOPICS: Google
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Has Google become so ingrained in our lives that we can't live without it? There's only one way to find out: Stop using Google for a few weeks.

While you can stop the Google you can't stop the Web searching. Hence my experiment to swear off Google and try other search engines.

The first day of this experiment led to some frustration--I actually had to use the yellow pages and the city search on Ask.com seems disconnected to the rest of the results. Meanwhile, I miss that Street View thing that freaks me out so much.

But there are enough new features to keep me trying Ask.com for a couple days (see the gallery at right). It may even grab a few points of market share if it can convince people to take it for a spin on a regular basis.

Here are a few thoughts on Ask.com and its redesign. More detailed views are available in the gallery above.

Being able to save a Web page is a nice touch.

The recommendations are helpful and encourage discovery--something that's sort of old school for me. Typically, I know exactly what I'm looking for and expect it quickly.

Results in Ask.com are presented in a nice format, but often I was led astray or given results that didn't quite add up. It wasn't the end of the world, but it wasn't Google either.

Search results from various content types--images, blogs and local could be integrated better. A few times I wound up at Ask City and felt like I was off the Ask3D approach.

Overall, I could survive with Ask.com as my search and maybe even thrive. On Day 1 though I'm missing Google. I'm sure it'll get easier.

Another stray thought: Would results improve dramatically with more search engine optimization from content players? Seems like a circular argument, but it seems to be that results may be better on Google since everyone is trying to be seen on it. Ask.com, with its lower market share, may not be on the radar for the SEO types.

Next up I think I'll try one of Microsoft's searches. I'm sure it'll be one of those murky, poorly defined "Live" ones.

Topic: Google

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65 comments
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  • I just use Google for search

    I use whitepages.com or yellowpages.com for searching for addresses, and mapquest.com for maps and/or directions. Perhaps that will help.

    Google is, IMHO, primarily a search engine and I really don't use its other functionality very much.
    CobraA1
  • Just a thought..

    I wonder if some of the difference is that people have learned to use Google (search terms) effectively but that knowledge doesn't transfer to other search engines well.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Search engine usage isn't that different between the top 4 engines.

      The top four engines (in order) being:
      1) Google
      2) Yahoo
      3) Microsoft
      4) Ask (formerly Ask Jeeves)

      All the engines parse in a similar manner, the problem is perception and name recognition.
      B.O.F.H.
      • Mmm, yes and no.

        Somewhat the same yes, but there are differences. Even when using Google I find "how" you search (search terms, order of words, etc.) makes a significant difference in the results.

        Not that I have sat and trained myself, its more a case of trying different things and learning what works best on almost a subconcious level. Lets be honest, "normal speech" like asking a full question doesn't really work that well with Google. (Or any search engine really.)
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • There are differences

          They are slight, but if used enough you notice them. That's part of the reason why I'm uncomfortable going Google free. The results just feel different.
          Larry Dignan
          • Well, have you tried...

            Copernic Agent? It uses several search engines at the same time, and while it's a stand alone application, when installed it will appear in a toolbar within your browser for easy use.

            Copernic can be found at www.copernic.com. They offer both a free and pay version. As I've told others here, I have both but since my Vista upgrade, I've used only the free version - it does everything I need. And I find it better than all browser search engine services.
            mustang_z
      • Yes...

        Which is why I use Copernic Agent, a multi-search engine program from www.copernic.com.

        Copernic Agent is a stand alone program, not a built-in browser search service, but when installed is placed in a menu toolbar.

        Copernic offers both a free version and a pay version. I've used both and now just use the free version, as it does everything I need.
        mustang_z
    • i don't think this is the reason

      I remember using hotbot a lot after altavista became lousy.
      Then hotbot got progressively harder to find things on. I basically came to the conclusion that the internet was useless, it was impossible to find things on. Then a friend who was a librarian told me about a startup search company called google, and their product worked so much better than the rest.
      And the clean interface was great.

      I did persevere with MSN search for a while, but it was pretty chronic compared to google.

      I now use Google docs and gmail (personally and corporately). It's all very very good. Sure I could use a local program, but it's great to move between PCs and even platforms and not have to care at all, you can access your data and your apps.

      I simultaneously tried Microsoft Live, but it was very poor compared.
      There's just something about those google products. And I like the price too.
      stevey_d
      • Another good reason for Google Docs and Mail

        Is that should my laptop disappear during overseas travels the world will not come to an end while important docs and photos will be dowloadable from Google.
        isabeldorastorey@...
        • Google Docs

          But that's precisely the scenario when Google docs is almost useless: overseas, when Internet connectivity is spotty or very spendy. At a Hilton in Tel Aviv recently, they wanted $70 for a 24-hour wi-fi Internet connection. Ha!
          smithkl42
  • Gee...so where is the same question regarding Microsoft warez?

    What a Microsoft shill!
    nomorems
    • Do you have any idea how dumb your ranting is?

      I am serious, don't you see how stupid you come off to everyone? Or is this a case of you actualy thinking it makes you "kewl"?

      Either way, its just plain sad...
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Both of you might benefit from this link.

        From Oct. 2006 Smithsonian, the bottom line is "You shouldn't believe everything you think." Apply the same rules to posting, and the world will become a more beauutiful place. My world, anyway.

        http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2006/october/last.php
        fuzzy2k
        • Love it. Thank you.

          Now I have a ready answer for those who doubt me when I tell them I watched it on TV at the time - and do they seriously think the whole world was deceived? If you believe that the TV coverage is capable of deceiving the entire planet in real time you might start preparing for a parallel belief about 9/11 in forty years time.
          isabeldorastorey@...
      • "see how stupid you come off to everyone?"

        Ah, but much, much *less* stupid than *you* come off speaking for "everyone."

        But, then again, I doubt you have a clue what I'm talking about, or you would be making such a fool of *yourself.*

        Cheers.
        brian ansorge
    • Your name has "bias" written all over it

      so why do you bother posting? Most everyone here can determine that you speak only to be laughed at as your opinionis are allways (and obviously) going to be slanted against Microsoft to the point of being outlandishly preposterous.

      Do you not realize how utterly ridiculous and inane you sound with your childish rants?

      Please be nice and move along so as to allow us parents to continue on unimpeded by your mindless banter.
      GuidingLight
  • Ask.com

    Ask.com has been my default search engine in both IE7 and Firefox for several months now. I made the switch right about the time I noticed that Google dressed up their page for every major (Thanksgiving) and minor (Groundhog's Day) holiday under the sun except those which had to do with American veterans or patriotism. On the most recent Memorial Day for example (not exactly a minor holiday in America), Google used their default page while Ask and Fetch both had respectful patriotic themes.

    IMO, this obviously intentional omission is a fairly blatant editorialization. Why should I send money, even in the form of search engine clicks, to a company with such an anti-American bias if there are viable alternatives? Why should I trust the search result from a company with such a bias?
    El Tonto con Suerte
    • Not ALL Googlers in USA

      And the many of us in a different world outside are not as appreciative of the US bias which comes across to many (including myself) as cultural imperialism. This "if not with us, then against us" attitude when a neutral view is expressed is seemingly perceived by many Americans as being anti-American. America is, may I remind you, not the only country in the world and hopefully will never be the only culture in the world. Thank you, Google for opening up international boundaries in the search for information and knowledge (not necessarily the same things) in whatever language or languages we choose to employ.
      isabeldorastorey@...
      • Not ALL Googlers are Irish either

        Nor are they all Jewish or Pennsylvanian. And yet St. Patrick's Day, Yom Kippur, and Groundhog's Day all received special decorations. My point was not that Google must be jingoist to engender my support. To the contrary, there are several international companies with which I am more than happy to do business. BUT, when a company generally goes out of its way to celebrate the most banal of holidays and then chooses to ignore what most people within its home country would consider a major holiday, one has to wonder why. I have no idea whether Google is an anti-American company nor do I care. However, their inactions in this case come across as disrespectful and anti-veteran.
        El Tonto con Suerte
    • If ASK has been your default search engine for "months".

      Then I "ask"

      1. What does Google not having some kind of memorial day (May 28th) theme have to do with your reasoning?

      2. How would have even seen Google's search engine home page?
      Busay