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New search engine – is Cuil cool?

There’s a new search site that claims to be better than Google because

The technology it uses to index the web can understand the context surrounding each page and the concepts driving search requests (BBC)

It’s founded by some ex-Google engineers, so I thought I’d check it out. They say
Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency. (Cuil)

One thing not ‘cuil’ (it’s pronounced ‘cool’ apparently) about it, is that my name doesn’t come up first! I’m quite sure how, but I am first on Google, which is rather nice.

OK, but that’s a rather biased test, I have to agree that I’m not the most important ‘Julian Hopkins’ around… on the other hand, why does this result, where there are unconnected ‘Julian’ and ‘Hopkins’ in it come up before me?

I came across this though, someone referring to something I wrote in an email list in 2000! Another reminder that ‘the internet does not forget!’ Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your parents, (future) employers, or even your children to read!

On page 8, some links to the Air-l list which I have contributed to.… At page 10 I stopped looking, the last one did not even have ‘julian’ in it …

It seems a bit slower than Google (not good). Although the pages don’t seem to have as much info on them, they do – returning 10 results per page which is the same as Google. Cuil has little pictures which are not necessary, if you ask me. Here's a screen shot for a search for "Malaysia Today". It comes up with RPK as you'd expect with Google, but a problem here is that 6 out 10 results are from the same website - not very useful...

I tried searching for “Julian Hopkins” in “quotes”. On the first page there are some more relevant (to me) sites returned

On the other pages… again the same old email, Air-l also page 8. My blog does not appear in any of the first 10 pages.

'Julian hopkins blog' … nada
'Julian hopkins digital anthropology' … no results!

How can it get no results when Google gets 86,100?

'Blog anthropology malaysia'… only two pages, and I’m not in either one! And the first result is something on Amazon

OK – maybe I’m being a bit biased here, the whole web does not turn around me… So, a couple of more tests.

Imagine I’m trying to find out what an error message in Outlook means – so I search for “Cannot send the message. Verify the e-mail address in your account properties”


How about Symptoms Headache fever ?

OK. Some relevance (two child health sites, four ‘toxic mold’ sites) – but the first one is a blog post about food or something, there’s “Low Grade - Online Universities & College Degrees”, and what use is ‘freemusicvideodownloads’?…

Conclusion: no thanks. Although I’d love to see some decent competition to Google, this is not it.
Another thought, could Google be defining the way we ‘read’ the web – i.e. we get so used to googling, that what we find with Google comes to define what is relevant?


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synical on :

After I read this, I've heard about it on several tech podcasts (CNet's Buzz Out Loud, Diggnation and TWiT) - I have to agree with some of them that it's got kinks that need ironing out.

I tried searching myself on Cuil too, and nothing (Whereas I get some hits on Google). Guess I shouldn't complain, then :-P

julian on :

You're a real podcast junkie ain't you?

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