Cuil launched recently with lavish PR and buzz, and soon learned that attention can be a double-edged sword. Under intense scrutiny, it flopped within hours, as weird results, a strange service architecture, misplaced images, and the name itself worked against it. Blogs, instant messages, emails, and phone conversations drove sword after sword into its bulky index, turning the PR charge into a gruesome bloodsport.
One especially odd architectural element was to make results worse (by taking parts of the index offline) as traffic mounted. If your main bragging point is about the size and comprehensiveness of your index, you would think that you would architect the underlying technology to preserve that differentiator at all costs.
Plenty of sizzle, but a tough, unappetizing steak.
Yet, there is a search engine worth watching these days (nod to Joe Wikert’s blog for reminding me of this one): Searchme. The interface is reminiscent of iTunes or the iPhone, and this might be a wise move given the potential for enterprise adoption of the iPhone 3G as a standalone portable computing platform. The index is not as complete as you might hope, yet the category suggestions and the ability to make and supplement stacks hints at a custom search experience that is also portable. There are features (the slide-up preview, the visualization) that really work well, and set this one apart.
I like what they’re cooking. It smells good. They seem to be focusing on the meal and how it’s served, not just on the sizzle.
The denizens of the Scholarly Kitchen respect that . . .