The search engine field sure is getting a whole lot busier the last few months and it looks like 2008 will be a busy year as we attempt to sort through the vast mountains of data that we continue to create and modify.
One of the things that has happened in the last few weeks is a new wave of search engines is beginning to emerge. Google controls over 57% of American online search and close to 66% of world wide searches in a market that really doesn’t have any other major player. Yahoo has a dwindling share and there is even rumors that they will outsource search to Google as they cut jobs. AOL already uses Google for search results. MSN/Live and Ask are the only two other large players out there. Here’s some of the newest entrants and soon to come:
- ChaCha is a search engine that is powered by humans who are all supposedly experts in certain areas and answer your questions. ChaCha’s claims of strengths are it’s abilty to answer questions instead of just doing keyword searches. Because you ask a literal question and a human responds you can ask very complicated questions. Also it promises a mobile ability that will allow you to get answers texted to your mobile phone. If you want here is a video promo.
- Mahalo is another new search engine that is completely powered and sorted by humans. Mahalo’s biggest claim is that it provides uncluttered results low on spam.
- Earthfrisk.org is another entrant that is run by a community that vote and comment on results to get better results. Earthfrisk says that they take the best of the other search engines and social bookmarking sites, like Digg and StumbleUpon, and weed out the spam. Essentially it’s a social search engine on some levels.
- Wikia is the most hyped new entry. It launched a few weeks ago and is by far the most famous of the new search engines. Wikia is the latest project of Jimmy Wales, the creator of Wikipedia. Wikia is an open source search engine and relies on the trust of a growing user community and the feedback that they provide.
- Even Rich Skrenta, co-founder of the Open Directory Project and Topix is attempting to join the mix by creating his own search engine, Blekko. Little is known at this point, but I’m sure we will hear more in the coming months.
For Google to continue to dominate it’s going to have to continue to change and adapt especially against the onslaught of user created data in Social Networks and bookmarking sites. This new form of constantly changing and adapting data will continue to pose a challenge until it is figured out how to comfortably index and update it all. I see meta data becoming an invaluable way to keep up with all this data and the company that can do it the best promises to be greatly rewarded.
It looks like we are at the beginning of an extremely interesting period in the history of search as many companies attempt to tackle this giant beast of an issue.
I’ll close with this powerful video created by Michael Wesch at Kansas State that attempts to put into context how vast and varied the collection of internet data is and the need to be able to sort and search it. It’s actually sort of a cult classic in some higher education circles.