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Google Adds Recommendation Widget

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Google has added a new homepage widget that shows you “Interesting Items” personalized for you based on your search history. The module displays recommended searches, web pages and homepage gadgets Google thinks you’d be interested in.

Here’s what Google recommended for me:

Searches:

  • 1. jackie mason
  • 2. little green footballs
  • 3. jews for jesus
  • 4. חוצות היוצר
  • 5. spv m3100
  • 6. nokia e62
  • 7. rosh hashana
  • 8. mda vario ii
  • 9. treo 750
  • 10. htc trinity

Some of those are just plain weird, while the rest are clearly biased towards my months-long search for a new cell phone. I stopped searching when I found a phone in July, give it up already!

Webpages:

  • 1. Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and
  • 2. Shamash’s Kosher Restaurant Database
  • 3. Better Whois: The WHOIS domain search that works with all registrars.
  • 4. Arutz Sheva – Israel National News
  • 5. Allwhois.com – whois domain name search & lookup
  • 6. DNS Stuff: DNS tools, DNS hosting tests, WHOIS, traceroute, ping
  • 7. GoogleRankings.com – Check Google page ranking
  • 8. Search Engine Optimization, Google Optimization – SEO Chat
  • 9. ODP – Open Directory Project
  • 10. WordPress Plugins Database

You know, I was in Israel for two weeks; I don’t live there.

Recommended Gadget: New York Post Online News. Perfect personalization. I live in New York, I want news. Good call.

Verdict: While I don’t agree with all of the personalization, none of it is wrong. The items are all correct, they just aren’t as “Interesting” as the title claims. Perhaps if Google had more data and a better personalization engine, they’d have better luck. I’ll bet Findory could make a real powerful widget if they wanted to. Do you? Come on, Greg, give it a shot!

Greg has some good insights on the module.

It is an interesting experiment. However, I think it suffers from the same problem as Google Personalized Search, focusing too much on a high-level, coarse-grained profile based on long-term behavior. I suspect the gadget would be more useful if it focused on your recent behavior – what you are doing now – and adapted rapidly to shifts in your current interests.

More at Google OS, Search Engine Watch and Niall Kennedy.

One question: I thought Google was calling them “modules”? Why does the widget call them “Gadgets”? Can we just settle on something!?!

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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