No More Answers But

Did you ever try using Google Answers at After 4+ years, Google is ending the service. It was an experimental product (there was a cost) where users could get help from researchers who have expertise in online searching.

Described on their site:

Users could post a question to Google Answers and specify how much they were willing to pay for an answer. A Researcher then searched for the information they wanted and posted it to Google Answers. Users were only charged for questions only if and when an answer was posted to it. Other users may have also added comments to provide interesting perspectives to the data but were not paid for their posts. These questions and answers are now publicly viewable on the Google Answers website so other users can share the benefit of the research.

Why did it fail - the cost? That's a possibility. The current NetGen is very big on free. They seem to feel that everything online from web pages, to services, to music should be free. And much of it is, but, as with music, when it's not they will often choose a service that has questionable legality to get what they want.

You can still browse through the questions posted over the last 4 years to Google, so the knowledge is free.

BUT, Google is still doing lots of experimenting that many students/teachers are probably not using. It would be a shame if a student graduated thinking that Google is just a search engine.

I'm assuming you have already tried the established apps that have graduated from Google Lab like Google Earth [one of my favorites - hasn't everyone at least flown over the house to look at it from the air?], Picasa for photos, Book Search, SketchUp for 3D models, or the Translate language tool. If you haven't tried those, start with them.

Here are 3 "beta" things to try at Google.

  1. Google Web Toolkit is an open source Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easier for developers who are not pros. OK, that's still pretty geeky.
  2. Patent Search I can see creative teachers finding uses for this beyond the literal search for patents because you are inventing, from elementary school invention sessions (always big with the gifted & talented programs) and inventor study (take a look at Edison's original patent document for the filament for a light bulb), to high school classes needing idea generation, to entrepreneurs needing ideas and reality checks on ideas.
  3. I'm using Google Page Creator in a course this spring free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish with no HTML or code knowledge or software downloads. You even get an address to use. I did a very quick sample at for a poetry site that I own.


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