One of the best ways to learn to do something is to make it the point of play. Want to improve your hand-eye coordination? Get out there with a ball and start bouncing! Want to make it to Carnegie Hall? Start playing with friends in a chamber music group. How about playing the Warfield theatre? Start playing with buddies in a garage band. No matter what you do, if you seriously play at it, you'll get better.
So for the past several years I've been trying to put together some kind of game that would engage people in a playful way to learn how to search. After many trials, we FINALLY got one version of the "Search Game" out into the world!
AGoogleADay.com is a simple game that poses a daily search puzzle for you to solve. The game starts today (Monday April 11, 2011) and will run for the next four weeks with each day's puzzle getting harder from Monday through Friday. We give you the weekend off (to go play those other puzzles, presumably).
Here's a sample puzzle from April 8th (we had to test it, don't you know). If you click on the "Show Answer" button, you'll get the answer AND a solution path telling you how to find answers to questions like this in the future.
The secret agenda here is to get people to play around with search and to learn all they can do. I've felt for a while like Google gives people intergalactic hyperdrive starship capabilities, but most people only explore the shallows by paddling around with their shuttlecraft!
You can share the question each day on Twitter, Buzz or Facebook -- even email it to a friend if you'd like.
And once you've worked on it for a while, you can click the "Show answer" button to see how we solved the problem.
Worried about finding spoilers on Google in the Twitterverse? Not to worry. The search box above the question is a special "non-spoiler" version of the Google search engine. (It basically limits all of the searches to the days before the question is posted, hence you'll never see a spoiler that answers the question in the course of your searches.)
For the next couple of weeks I'll chat about the questions, both how we came up with the question and how/why we solved it the way we did.
Please post your thoughts about the game here, if you would. I'll take them back to AGoogleADay.com world headquarters in Mountain View!
Search AGoogleADay every day!