Google Timeline Views: Perhaps Not So Experimental Anymore

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-01-05 Print this article Print

Evidence of more universal search tools from Google continue to be found in the wild, triggered by certain search queries.

Searches for "book of revelation," "Thomas Jefferson" and "Albert Einstein" produce timeline views on Google, showing up as bar graphs that let you narrow down the years for your search. Users can see a historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically generated timeline.

When clicked on, these timeline results lead to a page with a historical overview of the results that Google says comes from its News Archive search service, as noted by Matt McGee on Search Engine Land last night.

Google told McGee search results content comes from partner content digitized by Google through its News Archive Partner Program and online archival materials that it has crawled. Articles related to a single story within a given time period are grouped together to allow users to see a broad perspective on the topics they are searching, Google said.

Continuing the great men theme, I found timelines for "Napoleon Bonaparte," but not "Napoleon Dynamite." I also found one for Adolph Hitler. Google offers timeline views for "nanotechnology" and "civil rights movement," too.

Timeline results could be useful for students, scholars and researchers looking to do papers on certain subjects. These folks may want to pinpoint their searches to specific years. It's the equivalent of a LexisNexis feature on Google but without the headache and numerous printouts from matrix printers.

If I have a major criticism of this feature it's that unless you scroll the length of a search results page, you won't find it. Google likes to put the timelines at or near the bottom for every query in which timeline is enabled. Terrible idea if Google wants users to click on this feature. Makes me wonder how long these timelines have been appearing in the wild.

Indeed, timeline views are part of Google's Experimental Labs for search, which users can join just by clicking on the button.

The fact that these timeline views are appearing in the wild now makes me wonder how experimental they are at this point. They seem to work pretty well, so why not take the experimental tag off? Right. And Gmail will launch from beta this week. |

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