Reminiscent of shovelware

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2004-12-15 Print this article Print

This entire project reminds me of something we used to call "shovelware." This is a term coined in the early days of the CD-ROM when publishers would take existing content and "shovel" large quantities of it onto disks that they then offered for sale. Sure there was a huge amount of content on the disks, but it usually was rendered useless by a poor user interface. And generally the content itself wasnt so hot to begin with. Lets see how this adds up: Google is making a huge amount of material available, most of it not very timely or if it is timely not in full-text. And at the same time, Google is increasingly unable to produce high-quality, easy-to-use search results.
I wish that along with the libraries announcement that Google had demonstrated some great strides it had made in improving search results. Right now, Google seems closer to its goal of indexing the universe than to providing access to that cosmos.
Click here to read another commentary on the degradation of Googles results. My Google searches today are significantly less useful than the searches I made just a year ago. This is partially a reflection of the ever-increasing size of Googles collection, but it also shows how information providers have learned to spoof Googles robotic system. The amount of commercial content that comes up as search results has dramatically increased. Im not talking about the paid listings, but unsponsored stuff that looks like a result but is actually just a sales pitch of some sort. Google gives me less of what I am looking for every time I use it. And the useful results seem to be appearing farther and farther down the list. Id rather see Google concentrate on getting search right than trumpet how much is being added to its sea of information. Some of us already feel swamped by Googles results. The companys first task should be throwing us a line, not building a bigger ocean. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in Web services. For more insights from David Coursey, check out his Weblog.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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