Is Cuil Cool?

The new kid on the block that has been making a lot of headlines over the last week is the new search engine by some former Google employees called Cuil.com. The developers of this site are promising two main things with Cuil. They are promising more relavant searching as well as private searching. I’ve been messing with it for the last week and I thought I’d share my thoughts on this particular engine.

Just going to the site and looking at it the first thing you notice is that they have gone the route of black instead of the modern fad of white that both google and apple have had a hand in. I think this is a fairly bold move, but more importantly studies have shown that monitors do in fact use less energy with black backgrounds than white, and thus this type of thing could lead to some decent energy savings if the site takes off. Once you make a search though, don’t worry about reading white text, the main body of the page is white after you search and is bordered by black. A nice compromise I think as the main problem with black is reading on it.

The search itself seems to be sort of a mix of yahoo and google. It takes google’s relevance and adds yahoo’s categories which I actually kind of like. I often switch between the two because I often find category searches easier to find new things, but if you are looking for something specific a pure search is better. Basically, most the time Google is best, but sometimes I am looking for something new so I yahoo. This has the potential to cover both aspects which would be great.

Speaking of relevance, many have questioned whether it truly is more relevant. In one article I read, they compared Google & Cuil using the search of giraffe. They pointed out that Cuil produced results that included a video game and a children’s book category while it failed to produce a link to wikipedia. I do find that it fails to bring in wikipedia a little strange, but at the same time I actually find that it brings in video games and children’s books kind of interesting. After all, if you heard of some weird giraffe game or book and you wanted to find out more about it, at least you would have had 1 result in the front page that helps you find them. I’d also point out that google has taken criticism that Wikipedia is so heavily populated on the top of every search in google, which is both helpful and annoying as by now most people know what wikipedia is anyway so if we wanted to look there, we could. But I do think that cuil brings in a lot of variety of results into a search which I think is perfect for finding exactly what you are looking for.

I do think that cuil.com may be a little early in its development. This showed when it had a load of bugs in the first couple of days where it would produce no results at all for common searches. Still, I think the engine shows a lot of promise. Many criticize that it can’t compete with the big dogs because those guys provide more than just searches. But this was an argument against Google in its early days too. I do wonder how they are planning on making money though… maybe we will be seeing a cuilsense at some point?

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