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Google Slowly Catching Up with SWISH-E

Breathlessly reported on library blogs is a change to Google that SWISH-powered LII has used for years:

“Google now uses stemming technology. Thus, when appropriate, it will search not only for your search terms, but also for words that are similar to some or all of those terms. If you search for ‘pet lemur dietary needs’, Google will also search for “pet lemur diet needs”, and other related variations of your terms. Any variants of your terms that were searched for will be highlighted in the snippet of text accompanying each result.”

Good for them to do this; it’s worth noting that stemming technology is pretty common, though since most library databases don’t support it, I guess it would seem like a rara avis to most of us. (LII also has a spell-checker, and try to find that in most integrated library systems.)

I am curious why Google hadn’t implemented stemming earlier (and no, I don’t think it’s because they were too busy installing their new toilets) — or why they are implementing it now.

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