Cuil could be the cool new way to search

CNN reports that an ex-Google team is attempting to take on the Giant with the release of their new search tool named Cuil (pronounced cool, after a character named Finn McCuill in Celtic folklore). Reports to date are not bursting with enthusiasm  – but I think that this just might be worth keeping an eye on for now.

Rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, 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.

While criticism is easy, it is also important to remember what Google looked like in the beginning – which after all wasn’t all that long ago. I remember when AltaVista was king! and when this new search tool called Google arrived.

So what will become of Cuil?  For now, I like the fact that as soon as you enter a search term, some suggestions come up immediately to refine the term.

Just because Google has become synonymous with search, I like that an exGoogle team is building this tool, because I do think that what Google teams do is creative, imaginative and robust. If they got disenchanted, then they may be just be the developers of the next generation of search tools – or they may not :-)  time will tell.

I am not sure how good the data being retrieved is.  My usual test of ‘pedagogy’ and ‘information literacy’ produced results that I was happy with, thought very different from Google’s results on the same topic.

I love the Explore by Category option – not a new idea, but it sits beautifully on the page to help prompt thinking and therefore searching!  This is guiding my students rather than sitting them in front of a screen full of millions of links.

Cuil claims not to rely on superficial popularity metrics, but 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.

Oh, and it has a ‘safe search’ button – good for making kids take responsibility for their search options.

Plus I can add Cuil to my Firefox search box!

This is new. I’m going to watch this one.  PS. Phil Bradely didn’t give Cuil a wrap up – but I’m thinking we need to see how this develops before making our final judgement.

3 thoughts on “Cuil could be the cool new way to search

  1. Cuil is definitely going for it, but it’s hard to imagine them doing anything but incremental changes to what Google’s done. And even that would take years of effort.

    Me.dium.com has taken a different tack. We have a full web index, but we change the results based on the surfing activity of our user base (now over 2,000,000). It’s in alpha, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. http://me.dium.com/search

  2. I’ve tested Cuil on a number of searches and my biggest complaint is that it seems to recycle hits. After about 3 pages of results, it looped back to the beginning, but I know there should have been many more results. After all, they claim 121,617,892,992 web pages have been indexed.

    You make a great point about Google’s early look at the inception. It was super minimal and has definitely improved over the years. I’ll keep trying out Cuil, but for now Google has the edge since I use it for everything (search, analytics, gdocs, SEO, etc.)

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