Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Nerd Out With Google’s Search Gurus (Video)

Amit Singhal, Ben Gomes and Matt Cutts are longtime leaders of Google’s search team. Search analyst Danny Sullivan calls them “the brains” (Singhal does Google’s search ranking algorithm); “the looks” (Gomes works on the interface); and “the brawn” (Cutts fights spam) of Google search.

In a rare joint public appearance, the four men dove deeply into the big issues facing search at a Churchill Club event last week.

For instance, Singhal fended off Eli Pariser’s “filter bubble” critique, the idea that online personalization presents a skewed view of the world that leaves out important things like opposing viewpoints.

Singhal said that personalization is a big factor in Google results for some queries, like restaurants, but not at all for others, like banks. “Our algorithms are tremendously balanced to give a mix of what you want and what the world says you should at least know,” he said.

There wasn’t a ton of discussion of Google+ and social, but Singhal affirmed Google plans to revive its recently closed real-time search feature, and said that “who knows who and who knows what” can be a powerful combination of signals about what information is important.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik