Music Composer DatabaseA few years ago I started a little (huge) project on MusicEdMagic called the Music Composer Database.  I spent countless hours collecting information and integrating it into a great program that was created by a grad student over at MIT.  My intent was to create an easy to use and navigate place for people and students to find resource information about all of the major composers of history while not directly giving away the answers.  In other words, I didn't want to make things too easy for my students but yet I wanted to give them an alternative to Wikipedia.  Well, after months of work on it I was fairly happy with the results and posted it online to fairly good reviews.  Now though, almost a year later, Google as one-upped me.

There is a little known service on Google called Google Squared.  I learned about it while listening to one of Leo Laporte's technology podcasts over on his TWIT.TV network.  Essentially Google Squared takes a search for groups of information and displays the results in an easy to read grid format.  When I heard about it I had to give it a try, and one of the first things I thought about running was a search on "classical composers." While the results were not nearly as in depth as the work I did with the music composer research database, it still made me sit up and take notice just how easily Google's system seemed to work.  I am sure they are continuing to improve this technology, and sooner or later it will advance to the point that my little pet project will have to be put down.

For now though, I do have to complain about a few things.  It appears that regardless of what the query is that you use with Google Squared they seem to pull quite heavily from Wikipedia.  This may or may not be a problem for some people, but for me I prefer to see a little diversity.  It also seems to pull in results at random rather than ranking the results or allowing the results to be sorted.

Regardless of how Google has ruined my life with this new invention, I still have to give it props for being something incredibly useful and fairly well designed.  The next time you need to show a spreadsheet of a group of items like this give it a try and see what comes up.

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