Friday, June 19, 2009

Search Engines Sweep Nation

First, there was Yahoo!. Then there was Altavista, Lycos, Ask. Finally, there was Google. How many search engines did the world really need?

Well, this month, there's been an eruption of new, "improved," "super-cool," search engines. First, Microsoft announced their latest attempt to beat Google into a bloody pulp and wrap the corpse in a rug: While I don't think anyone will be saying, "I just 'binged' my blind date... I've got to cancel," the site has some very cool features. Chief among them? Their video search, in which you can see full length thumbnail sized versions of every video that comes up in your search results. This is fantastic for watching stuff during work.

But we'd expect a Google-killer attempt from Microsoft. Others, by smaller companies, show that while Google may be a household name, there's plenty of room for other search websites in the marketplace:

Taptu Dancing: One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone is that its web browser doesn’t support Flash animation, which is used on many web pages. And on any cell phone, it can be difficult to find a mobile version of the page you want. Taptu is a downloadable search app that filters out pages featuring Flash and optimizes the search results for viewing on an iPhone or any other mobile device. You can see how it works at

I Have A Hunch: Created by the people who brought you Flickr, is billed as a “decision-making engine.” The website asks you a series of questions designed to gauge your personality, wants and needs (for example, “Do you like bumper cars?”) Then you type in what you’re looking for, such as “Where to go on vacation?” and the site offers results that match what it has learned about you from your answers. The site is designed to adapt as more users ask and answer questions, to improve the accuracy of the results.

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolfram Alpha: Search for your name on any major search site, and you’ll find a lot of personal websites, news stories, PDF files of your alumni newsletter. But on, a search for your name brings up the number of people in the U.S. that have your name, what years it was most popular in, and how old, on average, people with your name are. Wolfram Alpha provides numerical facts and figures on many topics, though at this stage, there are still some gaps in its knowledge. All it told me about Jessica Alba was that she was born on April 28, 1981 in Pomona, California. Not even a picture? Come on, Wolfram.

That's More Like It. Thanks Bing!

Pass The Koogle, Bubbe- Announced this week, Koogle is a search engine designed for Orthodox Jews, who aren’t allowed to view “immodest” images and other un-kosher search results that may pop up (the name is a play on Google and that popular Jewish dish, kugel). While there are clearly some bugs to work out (some searches result in a 404 Not Found page), its creators hope the site enables the Orthodox community to use the web without fear of compromising their values and beliefs. For instance, I typed in "Jessica Alba," and the website nearly exploded.

Yes, I know she has a baby now and the body can't possibly still be that hot. But let's appreciate the way it was, okay?

Of course, the best search engine is the one at the top of this page, where you can search for things I've written on this blog. It looks like this:


Type in a word, and you'll find out what I think about it. If nothing comes up, then that means whatever you're searching for is terribly, terribly unimportant.

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