Turning Google Instant Into a Quick Head Trip

As you might imagine I’ve been playing with Google Instant for about an hour now and I have lots and lots to write about. Expect a big ol’ article tomorrow. But in the meantime, I wanted to give you a quick tip that can turn Google Instant into a strange ramble through the Web.

Normally when you start typing in a query Google will try to anticipate what you’re looking for an will offer you search results based on its best guess. You can turn that behavior off if you put a + in front of the first query word. When you do that Google will refresh constantly as you type until you a) reach the end of your query or b) type something it has no results or suggestions for.

I took a poem from Pablo Neruda: The Tree Is Here, Still, In Pure Stone, and the line fire in the forest, blaze of the dust-cloud. Typing +fire in the forest, blaze of the dust-cloud slowly into Google (well, slower than I usually type) found the results refreshing with every word typed. News about wildfires flickered by a definition of “Fire in the hole,” which was followed by a kid’s book, Blaze and the Forest Fire — and I never actually found any results that had to do with Pablo Neruda’s poem.

Starting +The Count of Monte Cristo took me lots of images of Count Von Count of Sesame Street. Typing in the lyrics to a Laurie Anderson song took me to Flickr pages, lots of sun-related music videos, and finally Sharkey’s Day. Typing in primary colors took me to Simply Red, then people, then huge chromatic explanations.

It’s like the biggest, most open free association game ever. If I could somehow hook this up to Wolfram|Alpha’s random word features, I think I might be able to make my cerebral cortex explode. Wait, that’s not a good thing, is it…

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