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September 12, 2005

Google gets letters

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I thought we weren’t supposed to research medical problems on the internet because it usually leads to paranoia and thinking that the mysterious pain in your shoulder means that your arm is in imminent danger of falling off.

But the Google blog today would like us all to know that a little knowledge can be a good thing. In the second edition of the feel-good “We Get Letters” series, Google shares a story from the parents of twins who used Google to discover that their seemingly ill baby was actually just fine. (Yes, I’ll admit that I’m linking this mostly because the babies are cute. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for cute babies.)

But cute babies aside and going back to my first point, the key here is not that Google is some kind of miracle repository of information but that search engines in general are getting better at returning relevant results. Using the query from the letter [hemoglobin “premature infant”], it’s easy to see that any of the big four–Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo–will return the same information though Ask has the Google Blog entry as the first result now, obviously thanks to the enormous influx of links that it’s gotten today.

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