Rants

What Color Is This Google Query?

This is a perfect opportunity for a dramatic example of how quickly Google is indexing pages nowadays. Do a Google search for

“blue and black” “white and gold” “blue and gold”

Or here’s a direct link to the search results if you prefer.

At this writing (Friday February 27th at 3:29 AM EST) I got 327,000 results. Scrolling through all of them brings me to a count of 155 (with some of them irrelevant, but not many) before Google warns me about “duplicate results.” Remove the duplicate results warning and you can go through pages and pages and pages of results.

This search is related to a dress that appeared on Tumblr and is causing controversy because different people are seeing it different ways. You can read more about it here – that link is to a Wikipedia article. That article, by the way, was created at 06:22 UTC, which would be 1:22 EST, I think – 2 hours before I wrote this article – and I found it on Google.

Considering that this dress issue blew up something like 8 hours ago, Google’s ability to grab so many pages about it is still amazing to me, especially as it was not that long ago that you had to wait 4-6 weeks for a search engine to index your pages, and even more recently you had to wait 24-48 hours.

Unfortunately this is also a perfect opportunity to show how Google will sometimes throw curve balls into the most obvious search-by-date results. This dress issue came up the late on Thursday, February 26, 2015. So theoretically if you limit your Google search query to only those results indexed between January 1, 2000, and February 25, 2015, you should get no results relevant to The Dress, or #TheDress, or Dressgate, or whatever you want to call it.

But you do get search results as you can see in the screen shot below. Two Tumblr blogs and what I believe to be a Tumblr blog are being shown as indexing dress-related content (as you can see from the site snippets) long before the issue existed. Check out Google’s date stamp for each page.

Google Date Search Issues

The takeaway is this: Google can be used to investigate even very very recent cultural memes or social media explosions. But when trying to do more date-based, specific searches, take its time stamps with a grain of salt.

And for what it’s worth, the dress looks blue and gold to me.

Categories: Rants

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4 replies »

  1. Last night buzzfeed said “this dress” debate broke the site’s traffic record and there was 670K+ people discussing this dress on buzzfeed at one time. This world just need useless things to talk about 😛

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