Will the best Internet search engine please stand up? In the eyes of many, that would be industry giant Google (like you even need a link). But there’s a new challenger today: Cuil, courtesy of Anna Patterson, a former Google employee who sold her Internet search engine technology to the industry giant in 2004 to upgrade its own system.
Now, Patterson intends to upstage Google (which she quit in 2006) with her new search engine, Cuil – pronounced “cool” (it’s an old Irish word for knowledge.)
According to the article, “rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to websites, Patterson says Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of web links. Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.”
Of course, I had to check this out. The first thing I noticed is that the new site’s still very much under construction. I got error messages and/or broken image links when I clicked across several of the tabs at the top of the page. But I’m sure those boo-boos will be ironed out quickly.
I introduced myself to Cuil in the most narcissistic way possible: by searching my own name. I was notified that there were 144,900 results (I had no idea I was so popular) but, as I waited more than a minute for them to load, I nearly gave up … but then there they were.
Initial impressions? Maybe I’m just too used to the traditional “vertical stack” of results, but the “magazine-like format” didn’t really do it for me. There were images alongside some of the links, but most had little or nothing to do with the context of my name within the linked page.
What I did like was that some of the results were actually more relevant to me (i.e., links to actual articles I have written) than I often get with Google.
Here’s another thing I liked: when I typed CIO into Cuil, it returned 10.6 million results. But it also had them filtered by different topic tabs at the top of the page, including “Chief Information Officer” (which had 131,766 links), “AFL-CIO” and others. And the images were better matched to the result than in my previous search.
Google returned 19.2 million results on CIO. But how many of those relate to the chief information officer? As far as I can see, there’s no one-click way to tell you.
Still, at least on Day One, I have to agree with Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner, who told CNNMoney.com that Google has become so synonymous with the Internet search that it may no longer matter how good Cuil or any other challenger is. “Search has become as much about branding as anything else,” he said. “I doubt [Cuil] will be keeping anyone at Google awake at night.”
I’d be curious to hear what CIOs find when they Google and Cuil their own names. Which search engine gives you a better face? Are you cool with Cuil, or will you continue to be gaga over Google?