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The rectangular display of information

Search engines have traditionally focused on building lists. Increasingly, they’re turning to the rectangular display of information: Boxes and tables. Boxes require extracting the relevant information and presenting it four-square in front of the user. While lists sort in a single dimension, tables show at least two dimensions. Boxes and rectangles are useful filters.

Google today announced the further boxing and tabling of data, in response (one supposes) to Bing.com. The Google Blog recommends trying searching for dog breeds, broadway shows, catherine zeta-jones date of birth, or zebra. (Look for the “something different” list in the left margin when you do the zebra search.) I especially like the summary of sources Google gives when it flat-out answers a question.

More boxes! More tables!

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