Looking Beyond Google

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Marlin T, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Marlin T

    Marlin T Active Member

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    • October 6, 2011, 8:30 AM IST
    Tech Journal: Looking Beyond Google


    By Amit Agarwal
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    Eva Hambach/Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesCompanies are investing billions of dollars in search trying to wean us off the Google habit, but they have only been marginally successful. ​
    Google has almost become a habit. While other companies, most notably Microsoft, are investing billions of dollars in search trying to wean us off it, they have only been marginally successful. Google’s ability to crawl the web in almost real-time and its evolving PageRank formula continues to deliver relevant results and attract users.
    That said, there are areas where alternatives, though small in number, may sometimes deliver more relevant results than Google.
    More In Tech Journal




    One of my favorite alternatives to Google is Wolfram Alpha. This is not exactly a search engine, but Wolfram Alpha can answer complex questions directly without you having to sift through pages of search results. Want to know when the next solar eclipse is? Or how many calories are present in that slice of pizza? Or what is the net worth of Mark Zuckerberg? You can find all the answers with Wolfram.
    The best part is that you don’t have to learn complex syntax, instead just write the queries in natural English, such as “what is the distance between New Delhi and New York?”, and you’ll get answers directly. Here are some examples to help you get started. You can download Wolfram results as a PDF and the search engine is also available as an app for Android and iOS devices.
    Google, sometime back, added a real-time option to help you search updates from the social web in near real-time. This was handy because you could search tweets and public Facebook updates from one place, just like regular web search. Google Real-Time Search is no longer available but you can find something very similar at Bing Social. Like Google, Bing gives you an option to sort “social search” results by time–most recent tweets and Facebook updates go at the top–or by relevance.
    Google is the most comprehensive search engine, indexing trillions of web pages and thus, sometimes the low-quality web also shows up in search results. The other big problem some people have with Google is related to privacy and how much information the search company seems to know and store. If these points concern you as well, you may want to check out alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Blekko.com.
    Unlike Google, which indexes the entire web, DuckDuckGo and Blekko filter out most of the known Content-farm or low-quality sites. Also, when you perform a search with DuckDuckGo, the search engine doesn’t store your IP address anywhere and doesn’t create cookies on your computer – so it won’t record searches you have made in the past from that computer. Blekko also offers a convenient /monte slash tag – see example – that you may use to search Google, Bing and Blekko from one place.
    People search is another area where Google may not always deliver the best results and for one simple reason – Google relies on factors like incoming links to determine relevance of web pages. This works quite well for the regular web, but if you apply the same logic to people search, only profiles of popular people will surface at the top, even though there are manyothers on the web who share the same name.
    Facebook, with 800+ million profiles, is a good destination to find old classmates and distant relatives, but you could also consider using Pipl. This is a people search engine where you can find online profiles by the person’s name or even by their email addresses. Like Google, Pipl also indexes data from the public web – web pages, social sites, blogs, and so on – but then also clusters this data into profiles making it a little easier for you to find those long-lost friends.

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    Amit Agarwal is the author of Digital Inspiration, a popular technology how-to blog. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook or send him an email at amit@labnol.org.
  2. geds

    geds New Member

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    Interesting - thanks!
  3. bmpeele

    bmpeele New Member

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    If it weren't for Wolfram I would have failed ALOT of my homework assignments last school year. I love that site.
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