Friday, March 20, 2009

Egosurfing, Google Autofill Style

I don't know when Google started offering the worldwide "search autofill" feature, and maybe I'm the last person on earth to notice it, but I still think it's great.

Here's how it works: On the main "logo" page, when you start typing a search string, a dropdown appears showing other people's searchs and the hit counts:

Type in another letter, and the whole dropdown changes:

The important point: Those are other people's searches, not just a history of my own.

Plus, it's fast, at least on a high-speed line. So fast, at first I thought the Google rich client software had already downloaded all the world's search strings to my hard drive, ahead of time.

Yeah, silly of me. But I had to pull the network cable to see for sure. Yup, it needs the network to download search strings to match brand-new searches like "kumquat"... but it does remember old sets when the browser is offline.

Strangely, it only seems to work on the logo page, not the Google results page. Yes, it works for the Firefox 3 toolbar search, but no, not for the IE7 toolbar search.

Regardless of all that, it's worth using... it really helps sometimes when you're trying to pick a search string.

What was that about "egosurfing"?

Egosurfing used to mean asking the simple question, "How many hits do I get when I google my own name?"

Now it means, "How many letters do I have to type, before my name shows up in the Google search autofill?"

Apparently you're not famous until the number drops to 4. For me, it's seven, not counting the space...


Graeme said...

At least your name shows up. :-(

Oddly, this feature doesn't seem to work on

Breck Carter said...

Graeme: Google masquerades as "Google" in many ways. I have never seen the point of "" other than to annoy, but that's just me :)

Google search behavior also differs depending on whether you are signed in to a Google account. For example, when I am signed in and do a search on "sybase" Rob Verschoor's site shows up first... possibly because I have searched on "sypron" before. But when I sign out, shows up first. It doesn't seem to affect the autofill, though.

Google has an interesting approach to marketing: Let people try to find the features on their own!