Time for a new search engine?

A colleague of mine today pointed out a brand new search engine had just gone on line. It’s called Cuil (pronounced ‘Cool’ – an old Irish word for knowledge apparently.)

My first reaction was one of indifference. After all, do we really need a new search engine when absolutely everyone these days uses Google? Surely they don’t have any sort of a chance against the Google Goliath? Well – you never know. I remember having the same knee jerk reaction when Google arrived and looked like a gnat next to Yahoo!, AOL Search and MSN. Just goes to show what I know, and why I’ll never make it as a venture capitalist.

Cuil has been set up by a former Google employee (Anna Patterson) and her husband Tom Costello. She was former leader of Google’s search index, so she obviously knows what she’s talking about. A third co-founder (Russell Power) also worked at Google on search indexing, Web rankings and spam detection.

So what does it offer that’s different? The most immediate difference is, frankly, a rather juvenile one: if Google is a single text entry box on a white background, then Cuil, to be different, offers: a single text entry box on a pointedly black background. Oh, ho ho. So droll.

Logo of the Cuil search engine

Logo of the Cuil search engine

Cuil apparently indexes more pages than Google, but it’s not the quantity of pages in Google that’s the problem – it’s dealing with the sheer number of results to find that useful needle in the info haystack. Cuil say that they rank pages based on their content and relevance rather than popularity (Google’s paradigm) and that they stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency to offer helpful choices and suggestions to guide you to the page you really want and that you know is out there.

Oh, and they promise complete privacy as well – which is definitely Google’s Achilles heel for many people at the moment.

It’s worth a try to see how you like the different navigation through the various layers of information.

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