The Search for Truth

Hello everyone and thanks for all the gyaan you’ve imparted to me and others by way of comments to the previous post. Although you are welcome to continue flaming each other discussing gender interaction, it’s time for me to move on from sociology to technology.

Once again, the referral log throws up something interesting. (Previous log analyses: here, here, here and here.) People from places as far apart as Brazil and Korea have been coming here looking for Mischa Barton photos. Now Mischa is only mildly interesting. What’s really interesting is that the Korean searchers are coming through the Yahoo Korea Image Search which sports a nifty user interface not seen at any of the other international Yahoo sites, including the US one.

It’s not just the main page which is so jazzed up and full of cool photos of what look like current events, but also the search results page which is unlike that offered by any other site. Take a look at what searching for Mischa Barton gives. A nicely (something less stronger than beautifully!) laid out results page. Ignoring the advt., of course. Click on any image and you are taken to a larger size version of that image with thumbnails of neighbouring images (from the search results) shown in a side bar. Now click on the Blue box with a >> above the image and start a slideshow!

I haven’t deciphered the other options yet (my Korean’s a bit rusty ;-)), but a preliminary Google translation reveals that you can restrict searches to ‘community’ or spider the whole web. By the powers of deduction that I’ve been blessed with, I conclude that there is a Yahoo Korea Photo Sharing Community or some such thing. If not a Flickr killer, it could certainly be a WebShots killer if only we could use it.

Which brings me to the question: why isn’t something similar offered by the main Yahoo? Or by Yahoo Singapore? Or Yahoo India? Or any English speaking Yahoo property? Also, how come the Singapore and India Yahoo sites are not seeing the Search focus that the US and Korean sites are seeing? Maybe Mr. Zawodny can answer?

While we are on this subject, let’s look at how good are the big three engines - Google, Yahoo and MSN - when it comes to image search. I mean text search is a done deal^ - the next search battles will be fought in the vast grasslands of pictures, the inaccessible and dangerous realms of videos and other rich media territories.

I always use the same objective measure for evaluating search engine performance, how do they fare on the search terms ‘deepak sarda’? All three perform well on a text search for that query. Time to look at the image search results.

Something that all three engines missed are the snaps that Sharad has on his site. The link text (here) which links to the photos actually contains the words ‘Deepak Sarda’ and it’s pretty darn surprising that none of the engines could establish the relationship; given that link text is often assigned a high weightage in text search rankings determination.

On second thoughts, I am glad that none of the engines picked up those photos. Sharad, I’ll get you one day!!

^ I know, search itself was considered a done deal till a few years ago. And then Google happened. The difference is that it was considered a done deal by well paid ‘analysts’ such as those from Merrill Lynch while text search today is being considered a done deal by an underpaid ‘research’ associate.