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A Google Toy a Day: Google Sets

January 27, 2009

This is another Google feature I discovered while reading Googlepedia by Michael Miller. Google Sets, currently a test feature from Google labs – although by no means a new feature, allows you to ‘create sets of items from a few examples’, providing a list of results which then link to the Google search results for that particular term.

I thought I’d give it a go using some geographical locations featured in this blog, to test what kind of criteria the application might use to create a set. My entry

HenladeBerkeleyRockridgeBristolIruña-Veleia

returned

BristolBerkeley BathBellinghamBostonBarcelonaBremenBerlin

so Google Sets has given me a list of cities beginning with B (like two on my list) in the United Kingdom, United States, Spain (like the locations on my list) and, slightly more perplexingly, Germany.

I tried again with some species of mollusc mentioned in posts here, but Google Sets didn’t return any results with a list of the taxa mentioned in yesterday’s post. Entering fewer, more general, terms helped. SnailOyster gave me a fairly sensible general list of molluscs: SnailOysterScallop ClamMusselAbalone SquidOctopus.

The internet provided a better source of inspiration. Entering three social networking sites – Facebook KontainMySpace – gave a long list of other social networking sites.

A (non-archaeological) use of Google Sets might be to find alternative brands. Say for example, I know that Smeg and Bosch both make kitchen appliances, and I want to look at the websites of other manufacturers. Well, Google Sets lists several, such as Miele, Indesit, Whirlpool, Siemens

Sadly entering WHS and Marshalltown doesn’t give me a list of trowel manufacturers… although it does throw up some tool makers (as well as Milwaukee and Iowa).

I’m not convinced that Google Sets is something I will be returning to for better productivity, but for fairly broad topics it might be helpful to generate alternatives I may otherwise have overlooked.

It is also quite fun to play with. I tried some archaeologists:

Barry CunliffeColin Renfrew

which gave the list

Barry CunliffeColin RenfrewJulian RichardsSir Andrew RamsayDerek Roe David ClarkeHoward CarterO.G.S. CrawfordEmmanuel de Rougé Marija Gimbutas James MalloryErnst PulgramAlexander CunninghamJohn CollisGrahame Clarke

Please do comment if you can suggest a use for Google Sets.

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