How would you feel if you arrived at Google, and it suggested some recommended Web pages for you before you even entered a query in the search box?
I wrote about a paper a little over a year ago which discussed that possibility, in New Papers at Google Labs.
That post is primarily about one paper, Retroactive Answering of Search Queries (pdf). A new patent application from Google, available at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), describes a very similar process for a search engine to recommend alerts to searchers.
The inventors listed in the patent filing, and the authors of the paper are different folks, but there’s a great deal of overlap from paper to patent application.
One addition in the patent that isn’t in the paper is a user’s Web History to help identify a searcher’s standing interests.
A method of providing content to a user is described. A set of one or more key terms is identified following user history information. The user is provided an invitation to receive content on an ongoing basis. The content is related to the set of one or more key terms.
The patent application refers to this type of recommendation as a “push” technology:
Many users would like to have information or content that is of interest to them automatically provided to them, with little or no effort on their part. Such an approach to distributing information is sometimes called a “push” method of distributing information, as opposed to information retrieved in response to explicit user commands or queries, which is sometimes referred to as a “pull” or “on-demand” method of distributing information.
An article quoting Sep Kamvar, Google’s technical lead for personalization, also refers to push technology – A Conversation With Google’s Personalization Guru, and mentions these types of recommendations:
Web History also gives Google the power to make recommendations through a browser toolbar button, an iGoogle tab, or the actual Web History page.
Sounds like a possible new use for the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the front page of Google.