Since the dawn of the internet, engineers have been trying to bridge the gap between the information and users that are looking for that information. Most efforts are expended on search engines. The biggest advocate for that is, of course, Google. But, is their practice beneficial for their users?
One of the things that I’ve learned as a computer science student is that a solution used by the end users should be simple. At the same time, it should not fall into the lowest common denominator trap – and I believe that Google with its search engine has fallen into it. Their policy on search is that they are looking for keywords and not for some coherent sentence, and that includes asking a question. To be completely honest, Google search does not prohibit asking a question, but more often than not, if you do not ask a question that they are expecting, you will not receive a sufficient answer. Sometimes it would even ask you to rephrase your, probably, otherwise valid, question.
Of course, you could argue that the previous point isn’t valid, because Google still returns “good” results, but, if you think that, I think you possibly need to dig a little deeper. It is well known that Google masks its search results with additional services ( e.g. Wikipedia snippets on the right-hand side of the screen ).
One other effect of keywords-centric search is that it is easy to abuse such systems. Google, as well as some other bad actors, use this fact to their benefit, and to the detriment of the Google search users. One of the infamous examples of abuse of the system are, of course, Google’s targeted ads, and, by extension, Google Trends. As you may already know, when you search for something on Google, Google flags that you are interested in that topic, and starts supplying you with topical ads whether you want them or not.
Also, there is a problem with censorship, technically known as keyword filtering. Censorship on the Internet has drastically increased in the past decade, so much so that the topic of bypassing censorship has become increasingly important even in mainstream circles. With a search system that is question-based, censorship is harder to impose. Indeed, you can always ask one question in many different ways.
Given the amount of time that keywords-based search has been the king of searching methods, and taking into the account that the hardware limitations of the past, that called for such a simplistic approach, had been worked over, someone should be giving more thoughts about the question-driven system. And knowing how innovation goes in big tech companies, I am confident that we, at YottaAnswers, are the prime candidates to be the face of this emerging technology.