Google Search or a Pinterest One?

Ashley McCollum of BuzzFeed makes a clever observation. When a user searches for a word on Google and then types in that same query on Pinterest, the difference in results reveals the limitations of Google’s internal logic.

Searching “stripes” on Pinterest, for example, brings up striped clothing, fabric, and art design:

“Stripes” on Google spits this out:

McCollum goes on to list 9 more comparisons and the contrast is demonstrated in each instance. Where Pinterest recalls fashion, art, and conceptual abstraction, Google retrieves products, names and hyper-literalness. (When she types in “California” we get pins of beaches and forests and skimpy clothes; Google instead delivers maps and pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.)

From Google’s perspective, this is a rather silly and unfair analysis. The search colossus stores and catalogs the entire Internet, whereas Pinterest caters to sartorialists, designers, and artists. That Google’s searches are too obvious or mechanical or archetypal, as compared to Pinterest, is not so much criticism as it is a difference in intended user experience.

Even so, I find McCollum’s argument compelling. She grasps towards the point that certain kinds of computer driven algorithms are severely limited. And that a more curatorial approach to search has obvious advantages.

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