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Cool New Search Tools That Aren’t Google

Topics: Technology | Add A CommentBy admin | February 11, 2010

Google still hasn’t found what I’m looking for, but fortunately there are lots of cool new search alternatives.

Yesterday’s underwhelming launch of Google’s Buzz highlighted something that’s frustrated me for a couple of years, mostly since Google achieved search engine dominance. That “something” is the ability to search productively from a small variety of sources and get useful results; something Google has made it a little difficult to do, first by crushing the competition, later by failing to innovate in many ways, much like their predecessors. It would be idiotic of me to not give them credit for the ways in which they have innovated, especially web advertising (we’re using it all over this site!), but the fact is, the web is always evolving rapidly, and business models aren’t always keeping up. And Google’s ideas are generally focused on increasing Google’s revenue, not pure, user-centric innovation. Fortunately, we seem to be entering a new era of real search innovation; the only downside is that key players are going in so many directions that you almost need a search tool to find the right search tool. As an example, take a look at TheSearchEnginelist.com, one of the best-organized and largest lists you’ll find. Even this list omits a fairly large number of newer useful tools, which collectively take a rather diverse set of approaches to the problem. One approach is centered around the idea that you need help figuring out what you’re looking for in the first place. Like InstaFound.com, which tries to pick the “best of the best” from other engines and give you a single result, or Jamesoo, which assembles a newspaper-like results page from RSS feeds. But the former can also lead to the “worst of the worst”, and the latter can just be utterly irrelevant. Of these types of engines, WolframAlpha is pretty impressive, but not really geared toward daily use by the average person. There are also some cool new specialized search tools, especially when it comes to images and multimedia. TinEye and Gazopa both offer “similar image search”, which helps you find images based on existing images. Their predecessor Pixsta.com was acquired last year and put to work as the shopping site Empora, which demonstrates the value of this kind of search. There are also cool tools like Fizy (requires log in), which searches for song files and YouTube links based on simple song or artist input, and is REALLY FAST. It’s likely that all this innovation will lead to a few useful search tools rather than a single behemoth like Google. A couple of likely directions would be customizable aggregators like yourversion.com, or social search like Aardvark. Or as we’ve mentioned before, recommender engines. Along the way we’ll see lots of gimmicky approaches like Greenseng, a “green” search engine, or g8search, which is sort of like AdSense on steroids. And there are a few mysterious startups with dramatic homepages like RockMelt, which we touched on previously, or DiscoveryEngine, which apparently has an active crawler called DiscoBot but on their “about” page is only saying “We will sell no wine before its time”. There are in fact so many new tools that we’re going to revisit the topic in another piece soon. I personally use all three major search engines and a variety of aggregators to find stuff, but if YOU have any thoughts or tips, feel free to share them. Social search is where it’s at!

This is me, performing a search early in life with that era’s state of the art tool:

Rockmelt and DiscoveryEngine have cool front doors, but nobody’s home yet.