More than two months ago, “Lazy Sunday” (AKA “The Chronic-what-cles of Narnia”), a mildly amusing Saturday Night Live sketch was put onto the Internet and spread rapidly. The sketch praised Alexander Hamilton, cupcakes, and Google Maps.
But for all the love “Lazy Sunday” shows for the search engine, Google Images has no idea the sketch exists.
Two months later! And it’s not because no one is taking pictures of this sketch—they are. Google Images is using an index that is many weeks out of date.
This isn’t even the most notorious occurence. People searching for some of the most newsworthy photographs of recent history—photos from Abu Ghraib—would find nothing on Google Images until well after the November 2004 elections—a lag time of more than half a year.
Google Images is now more responsive when it comes to news photographs. A search for “danish cartoons” turns up photographs from news agencies that were taken as recently as February 15. It’s improvement, but it doesn’t give me my Chris Parnell animated gifs any sooner.