I opened up a new Google Doc this morning and was greeted with a new Google Docs feature called Research.
Use this research tool to learn more information about the topics in your document.
Well now, this looks interesting. And potentially very useful.
At first, I thought that Google had come up with a method of extracting information from your document and using it to return relevant search results, perhaps using some kind of semantic search. Turns out, it isn’t quite that sophisticated (yet?).
But, it still looks like a useful feature as it adds search capabilities right there in the document you are working on, and makes it quite easy to add that web content directly to the document you are working on.
The search interface is a basic Google web search, with a drop down option to search for images or search for quotes. It will also return a Google map that you can embed when you do a location search.
One of the nice features of the search is that it adds an image license filter so you can filter search results based on usage. The options are limited (it looks like the only CC license they use allows for commercial reuse, which really will restrict the results and may be overly restrictive compared to the types of results you would get with a non-commercial use license), but it is still a nice feature that can probably easily be expanded to include the other types of CC licenses.
As I hinted at earlier when I mentioned what I hoped the search would be, you can get a sense as to where this can go, with semantic suggestions popping up based on the content you are entering into the document. Start working on a document that mentions something like the B.C. Education Plan (as I happened to be doing), and resources related to that would auto-magically appear in the search results area, perhaps using my network connections as part of the filter parameters. Which will then turn this feature into a very powerful research tool.