Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cuil: The small fish spawns

Cuil is a word that comes from the Irish Gaelic language. I couldn't find the exact meaning of such word in online Irish Gaelic-English translators (help from Irish Gaelic speakers would be appreciated), but it is supposed to mean knowledge in such language. And that's the name that Tom Costello and Russell Powell, both of whom formerly worked for Google, chose for their brand new search engine (www.cuil.com), which looks more or less like this:

It should not be impressive the resemblance between Cuil's and Google's interface. It is essentially the same design: The engine's name, the text box to input keywords to search, and links to their corporate info. The only notorious difference between Cuil's homepage and Google's is that the latter also offers links to access some of their numerous services (email, maps, videos, etc), which Cuil doesn't offer... at least at this time.

According to Cuil, their new search engine is better than Google in that it searches for websites by sorting them by relevance, and not only popularity. In other words, it does not look up things in the web by the amount of links and visits to a certain website containing specific key words, but it analyzes the whole content of a website and assesses the relevance that it has compared to the search criteria specified by the user. After it finds relevant results, Cuil sorts them in a different way than other engines, as it organizes results in columns and posts also images relevant to the search.

Another interesting thing about Cuil is regarding its privacy policy. A hot topic recently has been Google acting as a cyber Big Brother, as it collects information about people's searches, IP addresses, pages visited, etc. Given this issue, Cuil boasts about not keeping any logs of users' searches, or any information related to users' online activity (not even in cookies!).

The overall idea of Cuil sounds interesting to me. As they also say they have the largest index on the internet, I decided to take a look at the website myself and try to look up something there, so I used the query "Maglev". The results satisfied me: It not only provided me with relevant results of what is the maglev, history, projects, images, and so on, but the interface was very user friendly and it also suggested some other possibly related categories to explore (in this case, all about the city of Shanghai, which hosts one of the few Maglev systems currently operating in the world). The search was very quick, and it returned a very reasonable amount of results (129,577).

But not everything about Cuil is currently that pleasant. I gave myself another opportunity to test their search engine, this time I typed the name of this blog, "Everythings Corner". The results were less than satisfying, as it couldn't find it on its index. When searching for the same keywords but without the brackets, the results were unrelated to what I was looking for.

Generally speaking, I can say that I am pleased with this new concept of online search engine proposed by Cuil's business model. At the end of the day, it is unclear whether in the long run, Cuil will become the small fish to beat the big fish, Google. But at least for now, it provides users with a fresh idea of an online search tool, improving some of the flaws that its founders (and some users) have found in Google and other popular engines. Hopefully the creators of Cuil can perfect their engine so it can also find very specific concepts, keywords and websites.

The concept pleases me. I will certainly be testing Cuil further in the future. In the meantime, I wish good luck to Cuil and their innovative idea.


At 9:49 AM , Anonymous tatsuya watanabe said...

I usually use a function "cashed" with google, because it is easy to find the object,but thank you for giving me such a useful and cool information.

And , I came back to JPN on 31th of July.
Thanks a lot.
I'm looking forward to meeting you again.

At 12:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't find its magazine-style layout appealing. I like simple, linear layouts like that of Find.com better.


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