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Cuil: the next Google? And what about Yuil?

Cuil (pronounced cool) just launched. Coil is the Irish word for knowledge.

(Update:  Now check out Yuil, a Yahoo-powered mashup.  See the TechCrunch Review.)

Search Engine Watch’s Danny Sullivan posted a detailed review today and noted that the founders of this new engine boast Google and AltaVista lineage. 

Danny considers it a contender.

Can any start-up search engine "be the next Google?" Many have wondered this, and today’s launch of Cuil . . . may provide the best test case since Google itself overtook more established search engines. Cuil provides what appears to be a comprehensive index of the web, a unique display presentation and emerges at a time when people might be ready to embrace a quality "underdog" service. The big questions now are, how’s the relevancy hold up? And can word-of-mouth really still build significant share?

Cuil itself says it is trying to compete on four fronts:

1. It’s big. 

Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

2. It ranks differently, looking beyond popularity.

Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

3. Results are displayed differently.  

Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there.

Users choose two- or three-column displays. Results include descriptions and thumbnail images. Tabs along the top of a result screen suggest strategies for clarifying and narrowing a search. An Explore by Category box on the right side of the screen offers a list of related subjects with roll-over refinements. When you pause your mouse on a category, often a definition box will appear.  Very nice support for learners with limited content area vocabularies!

    

4. Search histories are private.

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.

The site also features optional safety modes and typing suggestions.

I am still playing with this new tool and will absolutely add it to my students’ toolkit.  I’ll keep you posted on those results.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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