Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Google’s Wonder Wheel Experiment, and More
By Tony Ruscoe & Philipp Lenssen

Google is running an experiment in their search results, apparently shown to a portion of their users. What happens is that on the search results, say for the query comic books, a link in the top blue bar will read “Show options...”. Click it, and a side bar full of options expands to the left.

The options include some known experiments, plus things I didn’t see so far. There are restriction options to show only recent results, only videos, only forum entries, or only reviews. You can sort by relevance, or by date, and you can only show results from time ranges like the past 24 hours or the past week. You can opt to receive longer snippet text, and images. There’s also a timeline feature and search suggestions.

Here are some screenshots of the process (I’ve added a circle in the first screen showing the link that gets you started):

One of the most interesting experiment features is the “wonder wheel.” This will show a Flash-based interactive mini app which starts with your keyword in the center, and related terms around it. Clicking on a related term creates a new, connected circle with more related terms. And whenever you click on a term, to the very right, the web results change to reflect your current topic of focus. The wonder wheel worked quite smoothly, except when I tried using the back button after going to a page from the results.

If you want to try out this experiment yourself, that’s possible. All you need to do is go to and paste the following into the address bar, and hit return – that will set a cookie telling Google you’re taking part in the prototype:

Below is my screengrab (available on YouTube and as WMV):


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