Mon 29 Sep 2008
Following my last post a friend told me that switching to Microsoft’s Live Search was not the best idea and I should research other options. So I did, looking specifically for sites that are new and different (because, after all, it is quite possible that in the Google’s shadow a novel and better idea for retrieving information from the Web could be emerging yet unnoticed).
Of those I like Clusty and Viewzi most.
Powerset is merely an interface to Wikipedia, which is, I think, rather pointless as Wikipedia has a great interface already.
Jux2 simply combines results from Google, Yahoo and Live Search in one Google-ish list of results. It has one feature that can be handy for SEO types – it displays rank of each of the results in each of the original engines. But, I think, there are many SEO tools that do it much better than Jux2 and other than this it is unimpressive. Thumbs down on this one, too.
Cuil is interesting, however the results are ordered in a way I don’t get. How Cuil ranks the results (determines what is important and what is not) is clearly different from other engines, which is a big plus (shows some innovative thinking). I’m not sure, though, I like the effect, because what was ranked best was not what I’d describe as best. On the other hand on my test searches Cuil did return a few pages no other engine did, which is another advantage. This means I’ll keep Cuil in my Firefox search box for those extensive searches when I really want to unearth any piece of info on a given topic that I can lay my eyes on.
Clusty on the other hand tries to organize the results in groups it calls clusters. On some of my test searches they were helpful, on some they were meaningless, but I think they are a good idea overall. The tab with domains is a nice way to see at a glance where there are many sites about a given topic, which is also nice.
Clusty is merely organizing results from other search engines, but it offers different profiled searches – searches for jobs, blogs, images etc. – using different source engines, which makes results interesting. Good starting point, I’d say, when looking for something on the web – especially if you don’t want to see it through Google’s goggles (Google is not included as one of the source engines).
Last of the engines I reviewed today – Viewzi – is different only by its user interface. While it is largely Flash powered (which is a drawback) it is kind of cool. It offers different graphical views for presenting the results and really I like the Web Screenshot view. It allows you to see the pages found without opening them in other windows or tabs, which makes it much much easier to decide at a glance whether a given page is worth a visit or not. Nice for lazy evening searches.
Last but not least there is our own little experiment at searching – the Sprinters Search. While not as useful as the sites above – after all this is just a concept demonstrator – it shows what I’d like a search engine to do – recognize what I’m after and explain to me what it is, while at the same time return the traditional relevant page results.
In any case – it is good we are not stuck with Google. Let’s not allow our mental inertia and habit to use only them – let’s look around for search companies that just provide searches – not try to shape the society.