Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ain't it Cuil? (pronounced 'cool')

Big news on the technology front today... firstly, is the unveiling of the commercial space carrier, White Knight two, and then this -- cuil.com -- touted by some to be the eventual 'Google slayer'.

Cuil.com is built by ex-Google staff, and they claim that they have built a better search engine than their ex-employer's.

But a search engine is a search engine is a search engine, right?

Most search engines will tell you 'no'. Like in the case of Google, it has secret rules and complex formulae to allow them to rank a page largely by popularity, in order to return the best results for any given search. Yahoo and others have tried to replicate the 'intelligence' in the search but failed.

With cuil.com, they hope to leapfrog Google with something even more advanced to give better results by topic relevance and not mere popularity. The key difference is that it tries to understand and merge 3 things together...
  • The context of your search statement or question
  • The context of the contents in the 121billion web pages Cuil claims to index. (That is almost 4 times to what observers estimate what Google is indexing today)
  • The context of the pictures in those web pages they index

The result is supposed to be more intelligent search results that are accompanied by relevant pictures.

These guys just launched this service, and will have some fine tuning of the algorithms to do. And so far, the results have been quite amusing. There are spot-on hits, and quite a number of misses as well!

For fun, I did a number of searches and here are some of the results:

Search #1 - a famous, iconic brand, such as IBM.
  • Subjects closely related to the company are neatly organized into sections with helpful descriptions on the subjects giving user a preview of what to expect
  • Explore by Category box conveniently provides further related topics organized in neat sub-categories
  • The images that accompany the results look quite 'normal' initially until you start looking at them closely, and you realize that some of the items (See the 'previous' button?) don't quite belong there

Search #2 - Topic of the day, e.g. White Knight Two (dunno what's that? Read my next post coming soon!)
  • First result got the correct subject, but the picture showed a white orchid (probably of a similar name). Another shows the knight chess piece!
  • Subsequent ones had the correct picture but the subject was totally different
  • Get this, there's even a picture promoting Japanese AV (porno) title (see bottom right)! Just how that is related to a space ship is beyond me!! In fact, The Register had also reported something similar, in that the search for a French academician resulted with gay photos!!

Search #3 - Local blogging personalities - Paul Tan (motoring blogger)
  • Successfully showed his blog as the first search result! Not bad.
  • Seems to share the same penchant as Google to display results from Wikipedia (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!!)
  • Interestingly, the Explore by Category box decided to list down things related to Malaysia instead. Quite a nifty feature and pleasant surprise

Search #4 - Local blogging personalities - Kenny Sia (er, famous blogger?)
  • Lists other bloggers or articles talking about him, but interestingly, does not show Kenny's actual blog! Poor Kenny!

Go ahead, try it yourself and have some fun. Do tell me if you get any interesting results!! :) ==> Cuil.com

9 commented:

Anonymous said...

I've tried 4 sites and u're right. Hits and misses...

1) Kindasophical... result unknown (bo ho bin... don't give face)
2) Niamah.... ok, hit
3) Zorro Unmasked (blogger Bernard Khoo)... miss big time
4) Chedet (Dr M's blog).... hmmm miss also la...

Anonymous said...

With more fine tuning, it just may turn out to be quite useful.

CheeWee said...

definitely will use it.. more is better than less! further like the arrangement!

Fishman said...

Think it's still far from slaying Google.

Anonymous said...

at first glance, cuil appears to be an improved version of google with its neat layout and cool thumbnails. after tinkering for a while, still prefer google for its superior search and hits...

Anonymous said...

i just found 1 thing very funny,
cuil.com is now using google.com and some other search engine database, just like wat dogpile.com did

but some search results is quite good, some is not. so other word, i prefer to use google+yahoo+msn+others all at the same time


Center Parted said...

Cuil.com is actually not using Google's search engine. They have built their own, with their unique algorithms.

Agreed that their results are still quite messed up. But they're still worth watching out for. Once they have worked out the initial bugs, we'll then see if these guys are just the case of hype and hot air, or do they really have something beyond a fancy interface.

Some of you may have stumbled upon YUIL instead? Its a funny spoof of Cuil, using Yahoo and their spanking new API called BOSS.

Anonymous said...

cuil.com is using collective results from several search engines.

wat i mean like dogpile.com is means they retrieve collection results from everywhere.

actually they have potential by doing this. it is just the matter of time for them to be famous, as long as they have enough exposure to the public.

Center Parted said...

Cool! Oh, I mean, CUIL! :)