Monday, August 04, 2008

It's a Cuil World

I've been wanting to write my impressions of the next supposed Google-killer-cum-search-site Cuil (pronounced "cool"). The problem is - apparently so did everyone else.

The site was absolutely killed by traffic requests when it officially launched last week. I tried many times over several days to get it to work - but to no avail. Finally, finally, when I was back home over the weekend - the site had recovered sufficiently to give it a whirl.

Initially, it's a much different experience than the default list of links on Google. The search results are instead put in 3 columns across the page - like a magazine. For each of the links - there is a seemingly random image put next to it - which may or may not have anything to do with the actual search results.

It's sort of slick - like a magazine - and on the top side of the right hand column (for most searches) Cuil provides an AJAX-powered category box that has related searches by topic (pre categorized by Cuil). For example - if you search for "FJR1300" (a Yahama motorcycle) - you'll see a group of other motorcycle manufactureres with sets of keywords.

Clicking on a keyword will basically refine the entered search box by appending those terms. So, if you wanted to search for articles that compared two bikes - it was more likely to show up. They have a black theme at the top and bottom - with prev/next paging controls that work more or less like you expect them to.

Cuil claims to have 3x more pages indexed than Google (140 billion versus 30 billion for Google) - and in fact, it was founded by some ex-Google employees and backed with a cool $33 million in venture capital. There's no ads (yet), and during my tests - it seemed to search pretty quickly and give reasonable search results.

Whether or not it will become a "Google-killer" is yet to be seen. My gut says no way - but you never know.

I remember a scrappy little up-start company that wanted to take on the biggest search players in the world (Yahoo and AltaVista) and wound up doing a pretty good job. That company? Google.

1 comment:

Edward Callaghan said...

New search engine Cuil claims its name means "knowledge" in Irish, saying on its website, "Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge. For knowledge, ask Cuil."

But a search of the word in an online dictionary turns up different results, and the translation has caused confusion in an Irish language online forum, with one user saying, "Too bad they did not come to us first!"

As a noun it means "rear", according to the dictionary. Adding on accents can lead to different meanings, such as fly (the insect), corner or nook, and hazel (the nut). But not many Irish language enthusiasts seem to agree with knowledge as a translation.

The news might not instil Cuil's users with confidence - and "For nuts, ask Cuil" does not have quite the same ring to it.

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