Google Stole My Idea, but I’ll still do it better then they will

A week or so ago, Google launched a feature/product called “Google Web History.” In short, Google Web History saves all of your searches and with a simple download, it will also store all of the places you have gone on the internet. The goal is simple: have everywhere you have been on the web accessible to you just like you were searching for something new. Fair enough.

I actually began putting together the details of this very idea a month or so ago. My intention was to build this service because I needed it for personal use – there were tons of things I found on the web that I didn’t bookmark but would invariably want/need to find at a later date. I would be forced to try and retrace my steps and with a little luck, I could find the page. Sometimes I couldn’t, or the link would be broken, or the content would have been updated, or something would happen where I simply wasn’t able to get back to exactly where I wanted to be. Thus the idea for Motley Box was born.

I love mocking up logos, even though I’m a pretty bad designer and work my way around MS Paint and the GIMP like a 3rd grader.

(Something like…)

Motley Box logo

(Or maybe….)

Motley Box Logo 2

(Could be something like this, whatever…)

Motley Box Logo 3

Motley Box Logo 2

Motley: assortment: a collection containing a variety of sorts of things

Box: a (usually rectangular) container; may have a lid

While some people are leery of putting their ideas out for all to see, I am comforted by the fact that (1) virtually no one is reading this blog, so this is really more of a way for me to spell out what’s in my head about this issue and (2) on the off chance someone is reading this, maybe they’ll have some insight to offer me as I go forth with my under-dog role.


I was hoping to develop a plugin or cookie-system that would log everywhere an individual person had visited on the web, cache the page, and store it somewhere like Amazon S3. I was mildly disappointed when Google launched their service, until I dug a little deeper and came up with the following reasons why my service developed my way, doing essentially the same thing but approaching it differently, can still be a success.

1. I doubt Google is intending to put much muscle behind promoting this service outside of simply allowing it to exist. They simply have taken search/indexing technology that they already had and leveraged it in to a user application. The Google brand is strong and will no doubt bring in lots of signups, but that doesn’t mean the idea can’t be improved upon and the deployment be more effective.

2. I don’t think Google’s Web History feature is easy to use. My idea was to have a home page with a search box and/or a toolbar search-box plugin that linked to your history. Type in “pasta recipe” and the pasta recipes you have browsed in the past show up. That’s it. Google’s tool has a calendar, category filters, timestamps, and other bells and whistles. I think that’s overkill. Their product seems to focus on indexing your activity and making it look like an index. My idea is to make it super easy to find web pages you have visited before.

3. I don’t think Google is going to leverage the power of group behavior in to their product. Their leveraging is likely going to be to help Google serve more effective ads to the user(s). My idea will be to integrate a way to share your history across networks of friends, communities, and groups. By carefully building a system of weighing what sites and pages are actually useful, a new search engine can be built essentially from the browsing habits of individuals. This search engine can even be broken down in to parts – “microsearches” – where you can get search results that fit your taste by virtue of the fact that they reflect the taste of people LIKE you. Imagine a group of Web 2.0 junkies who join a “Web 2.0” group. The collective browsing of that group could shape what sites and tools are most useful and interesting to that specific group of people.  And if you didn’t know anything about a subject but were interested in learning, you could find folks who WERE experts and use their browser history as a jumping off point for what blogs and sites were keeping them up to date and informed on the chosen topic.

The relationship possibilities are endless.

4. I don’t think Google is going to realize the potential of this tool. From the word go, this system will bridge the gap between being forced to bookmark a site or risk not finding it later. I consume a lot of internet pages every day. I bookmark a few sites, tag a few pages that are super important, and let some things go for good knowing if I need them again I can hopefully find them later. This tool offers something in the middle: you don’t have to do anything active (like clicking to bookmark a page or posting to to save a site, but it can easily be found nonetheless.

So, it begins. I have become a quasi-victim of Google having the ability to develop and deploy anything they want in a much shorter time then a guy like me. That said, I think that there is opportunity – a LOT of opportunity – to beat Google by being simpler, more direct, and more focused on providing a product/application that provides awesome power to the user, not the ad-server. This will be my first attempt.


2 Responses

  1. Have you looked into Google Search History? I’ve been using this for a while to track down one of those pesky things I knew I searched for and found “just a few days ago” but can’t figure out how I found it. You can search your results or just view them.

    You have to enable it first, but that isn’t much different than installing a tracker of some sort.

    If you go forward, I would definitely sell the idea that the information is stored locally on your machine and is therefor private for your own use. As opposed to “public” for Google to use for whatever purposes they desire (marketing, etc.). That is probably your angle, and I bet there is a niche market that would be all over this.

  2. Doh, just realized I’m probably talking about the same Google service. They had a different name until recently I think, maybe just search history instead of web history, which I have been using for some time. Don’t think I’ve actually used the web history portion of the service though.

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