Bing Gets Categorical

For this assignment, I chose to analyze Bing because I’m unfamiliar with it as a search tool. Going to http://www.bing.com , I was greeted by a webpage with a fairly simple interface. There was a search box for a standard search of websites with various categories listed below allowing for different types of searches such as images, videos, news, etc. Along the bottom, there was also a spot that listed searches that were currently popular. Based on just looking at the initial search screen, it seems like Bing organizes materials either based on the various types of information that people are most likely looking for (maps, entertainment, news). In fact, Bing searches are divided up into these categories: web (the large search box), images, videos, shopping, news, maps, travel, entertainment, and search history (which I don’t think is actually a category as much as a tool…but it’s listed here).

When I did a search for “classification,” I was given a list of results that fell both in the web and news categories. Interestingly, when I clicked on the images link at the top of the page (not listed among the results), I was given many resulting graphic representations of classification. As a pretty web-savvy person, I’m not afraid to push buttons and have a certain level of knowledge about finding things that may not be apparent to someone less experienced. I know of many people, however, who would never look beyond the results tabs. Although the information is there, they would miss that serendipitous aspect of browsing because it wouldn’t appear there was anything else to see.

That brings up another issue. I remember what Yahoo!s search used to look like with a little search box and a ton of search categories that you could just click on. Yes, it was a textually heavy screen, but the doorways to different types of information were right there. Now, it’s all behind-the-scenes. There is very little browsing to be done with Bing. You put in the specific term you want, and you are given results that pertain (at least to a certain degree). Hunter talked about the difference between hierarchical and faceted classifications. It seems like this is the difference between the searches of old and the newer mechanisms, such as Bing. If you clicked on sports, you’d be led to a list of various types of sports. You could click on a sport and be led to team links and rules links and whatever else. While you can probably find the same things using the newer mechanisms, it’s not as straight of a shot or as intuitive a road. Your rules for baseball will be intermingled with bat suppliers and the history of little league.

I should, however, mention a feature that Bing does include. On its results page, there is a “related searches” area that suggests popular searches that may add to or refine a search. When doing a search for classification, Bing suggested related searches for “animal classification,” “job classification,” “plant classification,” “scientific classification,” etc.

Hunter, E. (2009). Chapter 2: Classification in an information system. Classification made simple. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Bing Search. http://www.bing.com. Accessed Oct. 7, 2010.

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2 thoughts on “Bing Gets Categorical

  1. Josh says:

    What is your thinking about hiding the structure behind the search and the inability to browse. How does that impact the use of information?

  2. rfrasur says:

    There is definitely something lost when you hide the search mechanism. It’s kind of like going to a drive-thru window and ordering a sandwich. You’ll get the sandwich but you won’t get to see any of the mechanism that goes into making the sandwich. If you go inside and order the sandwich, you get to see how that sandwich is produced, providing much more information about you sandwich, that establishment, and sandwiches in general than if you’d just gone to the window. Some people don’t care about anything than the search result. Personally, I like the peripheral information that you encounter on the road to a search result. Since the original Yahoo! style of information distribution has changed (not because of it….but maybe), there seems to be a “dumbing down” of internet users. Rather than going to an information provider like Yahoo! and then searching through their information for something appropriate, users now just deal with a search box and basically say “me want cookie” expecting that the man behind the curtain will produce a cookie. As far as the use of information is concerned, I think a lot of information is never even uncovered. There’s a lot of interesting and useful information that people wouldn’t even know was out there or helpful and was only ever uncovered through browsing. Now it just stays undiscovered.

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