The Day Google Didn’t Matter

Last Wednesday, a couple of us here at PipelineDeals decided to throw our hat into the ring for the DARPA Network Challenge. You may have seen a couple of posts on this effort late last week. In 48 hours we had rallied around a great cause and began recruiting team members. Today we found out our team placed 12th out of over 4,000 teams registered and about 500 teams making a serious attempt at the $40,000 prize. In case you are interested you can read more about the Network Challenge celebrating the 40th anniversary of the predecessor to the Internet, the ARPANET, in this New York Times article. A representative from DAPRA even spent some time with us on the phone today reviewing our approach and strategy. All in all a great time.

 Darpa Network Challenge

Subsequently, a couple of really good posts have shown up around the Internet with people sharing their own ‘learnings’ from the event.  Here is one from Groundspeak and another from Techdirt. While both of these posts are informative and helpful, they miss one of the most profound aspects of the event. Looking back there are a bunch of of things we would do differently, but there is one major fact that will drastically impact how each of use the Internet and in particular, Search, for the years to come.

Here was the big revelation for us:

Google Didn’t Matter

Google didn’t matter because Google is a file cabinet of the past. Yes, we know that supposedly this week Google Real Time Search is launching and it will be the next great thing. We also know there are Google Alerts that help us stay current. But there was no real time search or alert that helped us on Saturday, December 5, 2009. Now Google documents were great (we used Spreadsheets) and Google Maps with Street View was indispensable. But Google’s main function, it reason for being, was 100% irrelevant. Google is great for looking at yesterday. In its current form, Google is a complete failure for looking at today. And when I mean today I do not mean today’s Wall Street Journal or Techcrunch as arguably those are both looking at history as well. I am talking about what is happening right now, this moment. And do you want to know the best place to find out what is happening right now? Twitter Search.

Twitter reportedly did a deal with Google in October of this year. The details of the deal were not released at the time. Twitter is obviously one of the things that will be powering Google Real Time Search. In the long run, based on our experience from Saturday, Twitter may have been better off not giving up Real Time Search to Google.

The bottom line on all this is that on Saturday it was really confounding to go to Google, the old trusty stalwart who has been there for us so many times, and realize Google didn’t matter. For that day and that purpose, Google lost all utility. The good news was that Twitter Search had the goods.

Photo Credit: T. Canu, Team 40kforLAF Team Member

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1 Comment

  1. That was inspiring,

    Google hmm, google is a lifesaver,

    Thanks for writing, most people don’t bother.

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