Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cuil - New Seach Engine on the Block

It ain't easy being the new kid in town. The cool kids can't see you for who you are. The snobs know everything and have no use for you. But Cuil, I think you got potential.

Cuil is a new search engine. It is pronounced "cool". I like some of the features of Cuil and I want to show you what it can and sometimes can't do.

Cuil Search Box
First off, let's not compare it to Google. I think it has more in common with Ask.com which is a dang good search engine. I type the term "collection development" Cuil gives me the following screen:

Cuil Search ResultsYou have the option of a two column or three column layout and the items matching your search term appear on the screen. On the upper right side is the explore by category menu.

Cuil Category MenuIt will bring up additional categories. By clicking on the gray bar it will give you related terms you can use to search with your initial search term.

I like this for a good and bad reason. I can get more specific by telling Cuil I want to know more about library collection development. But if I want to stray of and dive into something new I can do that too.

I mentioned that Cuil is more similar to Ask.com and I want to show you what I mean:

Ask.com Sidebar
Comparing it to Ask.com

Ask.com also has a feature to narrow your search but it is a little more focused. It understood that I was looking for library collection development, offered to show examples or links to planning, tools and practices.

Ask.com is not perfect. You have to know that there are sponsored links above and below your actual search results. Some of the links provided even under the stated categories are out of place or relate to other industries that also use the term collection development.

I like the concept of having suggestions to narrow the search term and I think Cuil is on to something. Having multiple categories to choose from can lead you down many interesting roads.

Small Caution and Safe Searching

As I was going through the links I noticed that some seem to repeat themselves. I looked down at the URLs listing and finally figured out the problem. Blog spoofers, spammers and other forms of low life are stealing content and linking it to their websites or blogs. Why would a seller of baby products wrap itself around the term collection development is beyond me.

This is not Cuil's fault. It is an on-going problem with all search engines. Be extra cautious about automatically clicking on a link. Read the sample text, many times the crum bums can't spell or there is non-sense text. Look at the URL before you click and practice safe surfing.

I'm not just saying this about Cuil. You have to be attentive with all search engines.

Is It Worth It?

Yeah, I think it is worth a tryout. When I refined my search to library collection development Cuil pulled up links from university and professional associations. It also presented books containing collection development content.

It was fast and I liked that it was more of a visual experience. I think you should add it to your reference tool kit for a test drive.

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