Back in 2002, I called Google the "Marcia Brady" of search. Fans of the Brady Bunch know that Marcia was one of six children, and middle daughter Jan felt Marcia got all the attention. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," she’d often complain, just as today, it often seems to be "Google, Google, Google" that’s all you hear about in search.
There’s more to search than Google, of course. To encourage people to understand this, I’m resurrecting an idea from 2003: Google-Free Friday. In July, each Friday, we’re encouraging everyone to try a search engine other than Google.
Understand that this is most definitely NOT motivated because Google is somehow now too big, too scary or bad in anyway. Sure, plenty of that sentiment is going around right now. John Battelle blogged today about perhaps hitting a "Google saturation point" and not wanting too much of his life going through one source. Last week, Google took fire for privacy issues. Everyone Fears Google (Again) & Will The Last Googler To Leave Turn The Lights Out? covers more fear of Google that seemed to hit a new height in May (and 14 "Is Google Evil?" Tipping Points Since 2001 covers other fear benchmarks over time).
Instead, I was inspired by the Day Without Google effort that Alt Search Engines tried earlier this month. I felt that fizzled for a few reasons:
- It seemed to be suggested without little advance notice for people to
- Rather than be a day without Google, it was really a day without using any of the major search engines — which was going to inevitably be an impossible option for many people. As David Berkowitz remarked, "The top 5 are the top 5 for a reason," with the two chief reasons being that they offer comprehensive web listings with high relevancy.
So let’s try it again, with a new twist. In July, on each Friday, use a different major search engine that is not Google. Here’s the schedule, with a different service to be used, in alphabetical order:
While I’m calling this Google-Free Friday, it doesn’t mean you have to be entirely Google Free. It’s mainly applicable to searching. On these Fridays, feel free to use Gmail, Google Analytics, AdWords, Google Docs or whatever Google products you might normally use that aren’t specifically search related.
However, when it comes to seeking information from the web, on each day, use these alternatives. This also includes not just general web search but also vertical/specialized searching. Try Yahoo Maps on July 27, rather than Google Maps. Use Windows Live Image search on July 20, rather than Google Images.
To help you, on each day for a specific search engine, we’ll post a solid list of various search offerings available from that service. You’ll likely be surprised to see how much they offer. On the following Monday, we’ll also provide a place for people to share reactions and remarks.
I started out saying this isn’t designed to be anti-Google. It really isn’t. To echo what Richard MacManus wrote:
Note that our intent wasn’t to "boycott" Google – Google is number 1 for a reason, which is that it’s the best search engine around. The reason behind the ‘Day Without Google’ was purely to encourage people to experiment with and test out some of the hundreds of Google competitors; maybe even catch a glimpse of the future dominant search engine.
Agreed. This isn’t a boycott Google exercise. It’s an attempt to help people open their eyes to alternatives. In fact, the days might even help Google itself. Ever tried a particular product, such as a toothpaste, then wonder if you perhaps should be using something else? This often happens to me. Then I try the alternative and decide I’m happy with my original choice.
If you’re the biggest Google fan, using an alternative might help reassure you that you’ve got ever reason to continue loving Google. If you’re nervous about Google, trying an alternative might help you discover that if they are a dominant search player, this might be down to having earned that dominance through satisfaction. And, of course, you might discover that there’s something else out there you like better — a particular feature, a particular vertical search or perhaps an entire new service. Time to check things out!
Finally, I said earlier that I was resurrecting this idea. I was thinking about the name "Google-Free Friday" yesterday, then decided to check today and make sure it was original. It wasn’t. Back in 2003, Pete Prodoehl of RasterWeb wrote a short Google-Free Friday post, saying:
I was considering trying an experiment. Switching search engines for a day. I mean, we used to have Microsoft-Free Fridays, right? What about a Google-Free Friday? Will you still find what you’re looking for? Let’s find out!
Is AlltheWeb the successor to Google? I dunno, but there’s some interesting stuff in FAST News…
Oh, if you don’t want to use AlltheWeb, there’s always Teoma, or Yahoo! or… Hmmm, I suppose you could search Google for other search engines – wait, don’t do that…
I’m sure I must have seen mention of Pete’s post those years ago (probably via Dave Winer, who himself proposed Microsoft-Free Fridays in 2001), so the name and idea must have percolated back up in my mind. It was fun to think about then, and it remains as relevant if not more so today.