How lovely. On a hot and humid summer’s day we have someone claiming to take on google at search. Enter Cuil (pronounced “Cool” – how convenient), produced by some ex-Google staffers (although, Google’s now so big that saying “ex-google” is about as meaningful as saying “ex-schoolchild”. Still, I digress. Heat, humidity, etc).
Well, I had a quick play, and it’s certainly pretty and I like the magazine layout (in the same way I like the look of Magnolia, but still use delicious).
Unfortunately, Cuil doesn’t as yet have the skinny on search. Concepts are a neat idea (although if I were in that sort of mood I’d just fire up TouchGraph and use that as a visualisation tool on top of the google index). However, these additional facets aren’t that useful when the 120bn web-pages they’ve indexed seem not to cover the web.
In a rather painful and blunt example, dear reader, I find that I no longer exist!
Leaving that dent to my ego aside (sob) there were a number of other areas that seemed to be peculiarly skewed or absent.
This shows on the one hand how heavy web users have become habituated to Google’s way of doing things. We amend our search strings for weight, or refine as we learn jargon in a given domain or based upon initial results. I haven’t got the energy to relearn this for a “solution” that’s at best simple ‘different’ and at worst has gaps.
The challenge issued to google also forgets that the big G is no longer ‘just’ a search engine: it’s a behavioural and intelligence linking monster. From the search and click-through activity, from my google documents, notes, custom search engines, google checkout and adword activity, Google is a closed loop system of information, behaviour and commerce.
The two ways to compete imho are to wait until google implodes (in the great history of global giants, or on a 20 year cycle) or be better at something. Clearly, the latter is preferable to the former, but if you’ve deep pockets and are under 40 years old then don’t totally disgregard the first option
I’m no longer enamoured of Google, but in the age of the commercial web they are the benchmark. One way not to compete, I’d suggest, would be to issue a challenge and not deliver.