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Click on any image to enlarge. To compare the search engines, we’ve selected a current topic with lots of possibilities – Iran. Breaking news is where Twitter shows its best (speed and opportunity for anyone to post) and its worst (rumors and lies).nn
Rather than returning a page full of the “infamous 10 blue links”, Kosmix presents a web page that mimics that layout of a magazine article, offering facts, pictures, videos and comments on your chosen subject.n
nKosmix taps into a raft of web 2.0 content, sucking in feeds from Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube as well as blog and forum postings. It’s definitely an interesting choice if searching for a topic rather than a particular website.n
Click on any image to enlarge. Iran is probably a nice place to visit if there weren’t massive street demonstrations and violence going on now.n
The prettiest of the bunch is Cooliris, which is a plug-in search engine designed for finding images and video.
nnCooliris delivers results from popular photosharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa, video portals such as YouTube and Blinkx and online TV sites such as Hulu. It can even search for products on sites such as Amazon.n
nScrolling through results is simply a case of flicking the 3D photo wall with the mouse, in a similar manner to the Cover Flow system used by Apple’s iPhone.
Cooliris for the iPhone can be found at Apple’s App Store.nn
Bing links to up-to-date news coverage.n
Billed as a “computational knowledge engine” Wolfram Alpha is no simple site searcher.n
nInstead, it’s designed to provide facts and figures, on anything from a country’s gross domestic product to the frequencies of Christian names throughout history.n
nIt processes more than 10 trillion pieces of data, producing results in the forms of data tables, definitions and graphs of comparative figures.n
nIn its current form it is strong on answering scientific queries, providing numerical data and solving mathematical problems. It falls down however when asked for simpler everyday queries such as ‘where’s my nearest Chinese restaurant’ or ‘what’s the best fertilizer for roses’.n
nFuture plans for the engine include expanding its knowledge base to a wider range of everyday popular and cultural knowledge.
nScreenshot: Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha provides an statistical overview of the country.n
nScreenshot: Wolfram Alpha
Not a search engine per se but Hyperwords a plug-in for the Firefox and Flock browsers that effectively turns any word on a web page into a ready-to-use search term.
nnSimply highlight and right-click on a word to search a range of online stores, check the meaning of the word, find its location on a map, translate it into tens of different languages or even immediately post the highlighted text to your Twitter account or blog.
nnThe embedded search engine runs queries against a range of popular sites such as Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay, Facebook and of course Google.
No results for Iran, so we tried “Father’s Day.”n
Click on any image to enlarge. The self styled “human-powered” search relies on individuals using their grey matter to organize results and information, rather than the mathematical algorithms most search engines use.n
nThe brainchild of self-styled web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, Mahalo uses a team of editors to build pages of information around popular search terms such as the BBC.n
nSuch pages offer a slew of well-organized and interesting content including encyclopaedia entries, videos, news stories, photos and facts.n
nFor less mainstream content, no dedicated pages exist and instead Mahalo pulls in a mixture of URLs, pictures, comment entries and video, from a range of different sites including Flickr, YouTube and Twitter.
We get some fast facts for the Iran search.n
This Cuil search brings up some general related topics that provide a variety of information: news coverage, encylopedia-type facts, or sports news.nn
When you can’t make up your mind about whether to ask for a raise or to buy your wife flowers then why not let Hunch do it for you?n
nBasically a tailored form of crowd sourcing, Hunch trains its search algorithms to answer future queries using users’ responses to a series of multiple choice questions – helping it learn that people who are vegetarian will never choose a steak restaurant when dining out, for instance.n
nUnfortunately more training seems to be in order, as its recommendation for the best bunch of flowers for a loved one was a bouquet of scarlet pimpernels, commonly regarded as a weed.n
nBut it’s early days – the site was launched yesterday – and the machine learning tech should ensure it improves given more time and more users’ answers.nn
Search for Iran.n
Since it’s new we’ll try another Hunch – Father’s Day.nn
This only took four questions. The wild card is pretty interesting.nn
Omgili is the engine of choice for vanity searching or mining web communities for information: Omgili scours millions of debates on forums and discussion boards for mentions of a search term, be it a topic or person.n
nThe engine even allows users to stream mentions of a search term as they happen in a real-time window, similar to updates on Twitter.nn
nOmgili recommends using the site to find consumer opinions or to find answers to technical problems.n
An Omigli search brings up personal comments about the subject.nn