A “Cuil” New Way to Search

By Daniel A. Freeman |

You don’t have to Ask Jeeves to know that a lot of search engines have come and gone since the web went mainstream. While in the past we may have yahooed, hot botted or altavista’d our way around the web, today there is no question that Google is king. Even if Google isn’t your preferred search engine, it’s hard to deny that it is the most popular engine, an industry standard and an unparalleled innovator. Google has been on top of the world for some time, but the race for something newer, bigger and better never stops.

Enter Cuil. Designed by a group of engineers and programmers who were instrumental in developing Google itself, this new search engine was launched today with the goal of “solv[ing] the two great problems of search: how to index the whole Internet—not just part of it—and how to analyze and sort out its pages so you get relevant results.” Cuil claims to index 120 billion web pages--3 times more than Google. It also boasts an innovative, customizable search results interface that is markedly different from the interface on Google or anything seen on previous search engines.

Cuil is of particular interest to librarians because its new features attempt to provide a more nuanced, interactive set of search results. In other words, Cuil tries to emulate the experience of a more professional search, the kind you might get with the assistance of a librarian. For years we’ve been questioning effect of search engines on librarians, and due to some recent events, many of us may be wary of a search engine developing such broad power. Personally, I have trouble seeing the launch of Cuil as a detriment—call me naïve, but I think there will always be a place for reference services. Cuil, like Google before it, will probably just become another tool we can use professionally.

Regardless of how this all plays out, Cuil is here. The discussion has begun, and you’ll be hearing our thoughts as we learn more about this exciting new tool. Once you get a chance to take a look, we’d love to hear yours as well.