Here´s a common experience: You´re searching for a holiday, new gadget, clothes etc. You type in a few keywords in your search engine and receive a nicely presented list of thousands of results. You read through at least 20 results while not actually coming any closer to your answer and now your head seems to be bursting with useless information. What´s needed are new ways to search and there are hundreds of options. I decided to pit one of them against the more traditional web search engines with a search for a new imaginary best friend.
In February Microsoft released a new tool called Pivot that provides a new take on searching. Currently the data to be searched is organised into “collections”. For this test I decided to search for a medium sized intelligent and friendly dog (any breed) with a long average lifespan. For this I used “2009 AKC Dog Breeds” collection in Pivot. For this highly scientific test the search terms were: “Medium sized friendly intelligent dog with long lifespan”. Each search took 10-15 seconds including entry.
Google: Top result: German Shepherd
Accuracy rating: 4/10
Comments: 7-10 year lifespan is not relatively long and while I´m sure many owners will say they are friendly, there´s a reason they´re freaking guard dogs!
Bing: Top result: Jack Russell
Accuracy rating: 2/10
Comments: Medium sized? In Lilliput maybe. Also having been savaged (ok, maybe a small exaggeration) by these as a kid I make no apologies for not including them in the friendly camp.
Yahoo: Top result: Boxer
Accuracy rating: 4/10
Comments: Although the top result is listed as “Boxer”, Yahoo´s actual top result didn´t include a dog breed at all but a blog called “medium dog blog” which I admit is pointing me in the right direction..”you want a medium sized dog, check out the medium dog blog”. I see a possible business expansion for these guys, “small dog blog”, “big dog blog” or for exercise fantics, “jog a dog blog”.
Pivot: Top result: Border Collie
Accuracy rating: 9/10
Comments: Pretty damn accurate, however the search categories also reminded me that they need a lot of exercise, but seeing as they’re so intelligent I’m sure I could just give “skip” a ball and tell him to go to the park and make his own friends.
While many search engines are customized and/or contain powerful features under the surface to refine your search they mostly follow the same pattern, i.e.
you add some keywords and the results contain these words. This often works well, but for many searches you need to compare many different features e.g. finding a new camera or gift.
Viewing data in different ways also broadens your knowledge, for example I learnt that the machine gun was invented by a British guy in 1718 with the erroneous title of the “puckle gun”. Obviously a fearsome band of medium sized Jack Russells just wasn´t enough.
Discover more useful/useless info with other useful search solutions:
Flickr : http://www.compfight.com/
Search by sketch/image : http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr
Lists of some others can be found here and and here. An interesting point which is best left for another blogpost is how many searches are now based around social media.