Cool Cuil!

by Sachin Balagopalan on July 28, 2008 · 2 comments

Google’s announcement a couple of days ago boasting a trillion uniquely indexed URL’s may have been a deliberate strategy to deflect a little bit of momentum from the impending launch of Cuil (pronounced “Cool”) today. Cuil is a new search engine launched today by a husband and wife team of Stanford professor Tom Costello and former Google search architect Anna Patterson. Apparently they have a bunch of ex-Googlers working for them as well.

Conceptually at least Cuil is trying to address the issue of information overload by categorizing the search results into relevant groups based on context. That apparently is the major difference - the ranking of the results. Google ranks the the results based on page ranks - i.e based on the number of incoming page links. Cuil on the other hand analyzes the results and groups them contextually. Theoretically that makes a whole lot of sense because not knowing the users “mood” the next best thing to do is group them into logical categories so the user can focus on the group that is currently relevant to them.

I tried playing with it today and I think it has potential. It’s far from being a complete product and there is a slew of criticism on the blogosphere tonight. Earlier on in the day it looked like they had some load balancing issues on their servers due to the unexpected traffic volume. But when I tried it tonight I was able to get the results back and it was quick and accurate for the most part. However the “Explore by Category” was way off in most my search queries.

This is going to be interesting to watch and if they stomp out the bugs quickly they may be in a position to give Google a run for the money. Right now they are no where close.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

The Kev 07.29.08 at 7:23 am

I’m wondering if the meaning of what you said is slightly different than the actual text. You said “I think it has potential.” I too played with Cuil today. It’s obviously a straight forward search construct. I don’t immediately see any bells and whistles that make me think “jeez this is awesome.” So..on initial inspection my thought is “I would like to think it has potential.” ie: Google is starting to get too big for its britches and needs some spunky competition. Is this what you really meant?

Sachin Balagopalan 07.29.08 at 8:47 am

Where I think it “has potential” is in the fact that they are approaching (and perhaps addressing) the whole notion of search slightly differently than Google. Google ranks and presents the results based on the number of hits/links - the higher the number the further you get up in the result chain.
Cuil on the other hand is trying to implement context to the search query by gouping and presenting the results so that the user can focus on the sub category that addresses their current context.
I was talking about whats “underneath the hood” rather than the UI.

With the web getting bigger I don’t think presenting search results based solely on ranking is going to suffice anymore. We need something new.

Here is another post that looks at it from a slightly different angle - i.e leveraging the social graph to determine relevancy in search queries …

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