THE SEARCH MARKET GOES KOSHER
This post is being published today, Wednesday, a day other than Saturday, on purpose. It is about yet another new search engine… In the wake of Wolfram Alpha and Bing, announcing Koogle (www.koogle.co.il), a cross between Google and Kugel (the name of a Jewish noodle pudding), designed for the Jewish (read Haredim) community. Ok, Koogle is not going to be bringing you revolutionary and sophisticated responses for the everyday Joe. In fact, Koogle doesn’t come up on either Bing or Wolfram Alpha. Evidently, the owners of Koogle.co.il were not able to grab the koogle.com URL either. Koogle is not for everyone and it is not for every day use on the Internet. In true Kosher form, Koogle crashes on Saturday (starting at sundown on Friday and ending 25 hours later). To read “About Koogle,” apparently you need to read Hebrew.
A JEWISH FILTER
In their mission statement, Koogle administrators said the site’s goal is to “filter the appropriate information from different websites that are relevant to our target audience in a way that does not contradict the values of our traditional Jewish audience.”
From the USA Today article on 18 June 2009: “Koogle is not a filter for surfers who want to access secular websites. Rather, it is a compilation of Israeli resources deemed inoffensive by the administrators. It includes news, business directories and links to realtors, kosher restaurants, hotels as well as mohels, or ritual circumcisers, and rehab centers.”
And, again from the same news source: “In keeping with the norms of the haredi community, no photos of women — no matter how modestly attired — are permitted on Koogle. Nor are there ads for TVs, DVD players or other “unkosher” products.”
Well, it may not rank up there with Wolfram or Bing in terms of traffic, but it certainly is the winner for being the most specific.
UPDATE ON 14 APRIL 2011: The site Koogle is no longer functional
In the years to come, will this month be declared the month that forever changed the face of Internet search engines? There have been at least two significant launches that I have read about. Based on sophisticated algorhythms, these two new search engines promise more “intelligent” search results.
First, there is Wolfram Alpha, which I wrote about before (here) and has gone live. For fun, try this: “What is the population of California, USA?” The answer is decidedly more easy to read than your usual Google answer, spewing out lines of text. Wolfram Alpha is definitely not perfect, but if it catches on and is able to “learn” over time as well as dig deep into the collective “intelligence” (as it promises), you can clearly see why this type of approach is of interest.
Now, Microsoft has gone badda bling, badda BING — or at least, coming soon. Pre-launced by CEO Balmer last night, apparently, bing will have a similar type of “logical” and easy-to-read outputs as Wolfram Alpha. Per the LA Times, “Rather than introducing a revolutionary approach to presenting information, Bing appears to stitch together its own versions of the Web’s most popular planning and decision tools — think Expedia for travel, Yelp for restaurants, Amazon for shopping.”
Watch this space, eh!
To read the author’s pre-released blog post (written March 5, 2009), Wolfram Alpha, the new search engine due out in May 2009, is a kind of combination of the Theory of Everything meets Enstein’s Google. The author, Stephen Wolfram, is the father of two other ambitious projects, Mathematica and A New Kind of Science and has a flair for the big ideas. Wolfram clearly has a high regard for himself, plastering his name over each of the inventions or concepts and stating in his book, NKS, “I have come to view [my discovery] as one of the more important single discoveries in the whole history of theoretical science.” If you are mathematically inclined, you can download his NKS book for free here. On the other hand, from what I have read, Mathematica is clearly highly regarded — some say the reference — in its domain. If nothing else, for the layman, you might enjoy some of the images that you can find on his Mathematica Graphics Gallery (a sample below).
So, what is interesting about Wolfram Alpha? It may yet be the next Google, or it may fizzle out much like NKS. If it were truly the next Google, I personally would not have hesitated to name it Wolfram.com rather than WolframAlpha.com… Almost seems like he is hedging his bets. All the same, the very concept of Wolfram Alpha is fascinating, so I can only applaud the size of the ambition. Based on the purposefully sketchy information available, it would seem that WolframAlpha goes a step [or two] beyond semantic tagging, to use the vast array of information and intelligence available on the Internet to create the optimal solution for a particular query. In his own words, the idea is that “one would be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have it compute the answer.” Rather than focus on the search criteria, the Wolfram Alpha engine uses complex algorithms, heuristics, linguistic discovery and curation to compute and/or perfect the answer, seeking to improve on the existing information. My description of what Wolfram is attempting to do: Take a 3rd dimension view of all the 2D information, outstretched on a worldwide web, and theoretically makes it organic and artificially intelligent.
Anyway, watch this [virtual] space as they say.