North Wind And Sun

This is Cuil

Posted in Search engines by Ricardo Bilton on 29-July-2008

Like most internet users, I use Google’s search service almost exclusively. It’s not something I’m particularly conscious of; it’s a twitch reaction: Search? Google. As you might expect, things have worked out pretty well so far, which is why Google is my default search engine.

Naturally, in keeping with the market forces that launched Google to its current status,  competing search engines pop up on a fairly frequent basis, most of which, foolishly or not, are soaked with the intention of usurping Google from its pedestal.

Cuil (pictured above) is the most recent of these start ups. Pronounced ‘cool’, the name for the search engine derives from the old Irish for “knowledge.”  Much of the inital interest in Cuil seems to stem from the fact that it was launched by former Google employees, a number of whom worked on some of the key indexing features of the Google search engine.

According to Cuil’s CEO and founder Tom Costello, Cuil features a much more robust indexing roster, beating out Google with a number in the ballpark of 120 billion pages. (This number, as one should assume, is only as significant as the relevancy of the indexed pages, of course.)

Cuil's results page

The simplicity of Cuil’s (off kilter) search page is the most apparent hallmark to Google. (Note, however, that Cuil is decked-out in the energy-saving hue black. Shame on you, Google!) The similarities seem to stop there, as Cuil features a dramatically different results page from Google’s own. Rather than listing results linearly, Cuil groups results by category, realizing that sometimes results have different meanings in different contexts.

Their philosophy on how search engines should work is convincing enough to bring forth questions on Google’s own method. Cuil operates on the assumption that a popular page isn’t automatically a relevant page. Pages not commonly linked to can be just as significant as the most popular ones.

Cuil also separates itself from Google in the privacy sector”

Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private.

Though Google doesn’t attach names to their saved searches, they have been criticized in the past for their data collection practices. Cuil’s privacy statement is fairly straightforward:

Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: when you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

The potential for Cuil is certainly there, but the key to its success is not in its potential, but rather in its ability to become the automatic destination for those searching online. I think I’ll replace Google for a week and give Cuil an adequate test drive.

(As a somewhat humorous sidenote, Cuil itself does not appear when one searches it for it within Cuil. It does, however, appear via Google.)

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One Response

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  1. pressreleasepr said, on 8-August-2008 at 5:38 pm

    I waited until the early media hoopla was out of the way. Still not impressed. But…

    They are young so I’ll check back on them. But they need to improve…

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