Tuesday, October 11, 2005

search engines

uff.. not again!!
Search engines, one of the most discussed topics when it comes to internet :p. And yes am going to discuss on it again with state of the art in it.

Google not the poineers in it, but still poineers in the way of organizing the web in a way that one can search to get what (s)he wants. Yahoo, MSN, askjeeves are other big names in the same field. With ever increasing internet growth, everyone of them is trying to cope up with the large number of web pages build everyday. Everyone is building more tools, incorporating more features into their search facility to attract more users like toolbars etc.

In this feat, Yahoo sometime back said that the pages they are searching are around 19 billion i.e. arnd 2.5 times the google engine shows on their homepage. Google in reply to this removed the no. of pages they are querying from their main page and said that what matters is the quality of results and not quantity (and even if one considers the quantity then one can always match the no. of results returned on yahoo vs google).
MSN on the other hand is trying to beat the google with the way we discussed earlier, and even talks are going on. Here is link to earlier article (i lost a newer one :( )

While big players in this market are fighting for attracting more users via these _useless_ ways rather than trying to improve the quality of search results and providing the users what he wants and not what these engines want to give. Rather than some context based optimizations (or SEO's), I have not read any article since long that anyone of them is working on "invisible web" or even trying to ways to access or crawl it or anyone has some cutting edge technology for the context based search. There are some new startups in search field providing context-based search results but the result list is so small that one cannot rely on them fully.
Vivismo which is their since long, a automatic categorization tool organizes search results into meaningful categories without requiring any preprocessing of documents. Didnot got much success because of the small number of the results that are returned to the user. The categories formed here are more less depend on the various meaning of the search word and/or the various attributes the search phrase may have.
Then, their is KartOO a flash based online search tool which provides a new and interactive kind of experience dividing the search results into various categories. Interesting part is categories are formed based on the categorization of the results rather then some pre-defined taxonomies or meanings.
Grokker is another engine in the market that uses yahoo search power with java technology to categorize the search results in small circles inside a big circle (representing the whole set). Here small circles represents the subsets with some results belonging to that category. The results here are combination of the above two approaches. Where the process is sort of recursive when u enter one of the categories u choose.

The problem with last two is that they provide very few results, so can be used only when one wants some specific information about some topic or field.

But there is new search engine in the market namely, Wink, which is an folksonomy based search engine. Folkosonomy (tagging in lay man langauge) is current approach of categorization showing high acceptance in web 2.0 era. Wink other than using google search API's allows users to tag and rank the search results as per the their choice and then when someone else search for "similar" keyword other than google results, these user driven results are also shown to users.
you can even rank (0-5) and tag the results. I think these options were also used to be there in early search engines. Anyways nice work and cool interface.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Nakul said...

Article from TimesofIndia 6th Nov.

"Searching on the web is no longer about endless lists of drab hyperlinks. Jazzy visual search tools are here to add colour (literally!) to your online search results. Visual search, in concept, is similar to mind maps. What you get here, is a pictorial representation of how a central keyword is linked to other similar words or results. Such search sites provide searches in various forms, such as colourful circles arranged in a planetary fashion or flowchart like symbols that signify the relationship between your results.
Take for instance Grokker (www.grokker.com), a snazzy cousin of Yahoo! search. It generates fascinating maps that quickly let you sift through an organised list of results. Grokker uses a clustering engine that analyses and presents search results in topically organised visual maps. Searching, or rather gorkking, is simple too. All you need to do is enter your search keyword and click on the ‘Gork’ button. This would give you results arranged in topical circles. This not only makes the search more visually appealing, but also gives you an organised way of searching.
Grokker also offers personalisation features to let you quickly pinpoint specific information in a Grokker Map. It has multiple filters to cut out unwanted results. These include date and rank controls (website popularity as ranked by Yahoo!) in the form of easy-to-use sliders. Plus you get a neat preview of the referred web page on the right side of the page, with a brief description.
Kartoo (www.kartoo.net) is another such search engine. It is basically a metacrawler engine that aggregates the results of many other search engines into visual maps.
Then there are specialised visual search engines. For instnace, for news you have News Maps (www.newsisfree.com/newsmap) from the Hive group. Here you get visual maps made up of news articles from all over the world. The maps are made up of squares, where each square represents an article with a link to the actual story. If you hover the mouse on a particular square, you get a small pop-up with an excerpt about the news story.
For sorting, News Maps uses a ‘honeycomb’ algorithm, which organises news headlines by source. Size and colour is used to indicate an article’s age and popularity. Filtering is easy too, as you can rearrange your results to view articles that meet certain criteria, or that contain certain text.
News Maps offers customisation options too. You can, for instance, choose whether the size of a news ‘square’ represents popularity or ‘freshness’ (how recent that news is). Similarly, you can play with the colour scheme, or choose different shades from yellow to red to indicate popularity or age of the news item. There are two control sliders that can be used to specify the time range (such as within the last 24 hours) to scan. Plus there are pre-configured news maps, such as Top News and Sports, along with options for tracking, clipping, e-mailing and blogging news.
Similarly, to wade through the cosmos of entertainment, you have tools like Liveplasma (www.liveplasma.com). This is a visual search engine that maps out connections between actors, directors, movies, or bands/artistes, based on the affinity of taste. The working is simple: it plays an ‘if, then’ game with your search query. Let’s say you are a great fan of Aerosmith. Liveplasma will scour through its database and tell you that you might also fancy music by Def Leppard, Van Halen and Bon Jovi. Or let’s say, you fell in love with Finding Nemo. Then Shrek and Ice Age may be your kind of movies too. Liveplasma is a visual delight as well. It shows colourful bubbles that map the links between your search term and the results that are closely related to them. For example, the singer you searched on will be at the center of the map, while closely related artistes will be positioned all around. The size of the circle around a musician’s name indicates popularity. You can also click in the center of any sphere to make that musician or movie the center of the map and start over. Plus you can zoom the map in or out by moving slowly out from the center of a sphere and clicking when you see a ‘Zoom +’ or ‘Zoom -’ message appear.
The database gives brilliant cross-links too. Say, you search for Asha Bhosle. Liveplasma will not only link it to Lata Mangeshkar but also to Radiohead and Evanescence, who fall into a similar genre of music. For most results, you’ll also get a brief discography or movie information with links to Amazon. Liveplasma comes in various languages—English, French, Spanish and German. Just click the flag icon to change the interface language. For Indian movies and actors though, the database is not as extensive.
The next step for visual search tools could probably mean linking up with networking services such as Orkut and Friendster. This would mean linking up like-minded people in a social web. The huge number of users on these sites would ensure spot-on recommendations for each category. Later, probably, these could be married with subscription services like Napster, AdSense and such, turning it into a nice visual enterprise. But as of now, these search tools are good to look at, if nothing else. Certainly worth a try. TNN"

9:11 AM  
Blogger Nakul said...

There is more into it with blog search engines. Existing ones mostly use atom-based techniques with keyword based search. Google blogs, technorati, blogpulse, etc. there is huge list.
Yahoo search blogs assuming that they have "newsy" content in them. and now there is "sphere" which has sort redefined the feature set with new weights corresponding to different features providing much better and informative results. Om has given some examples.

12:50 PM  

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