A new search engine called Cuil has been getting a lot of buzz recently, and not, as you might expect, because it got punched in the mouth by Christian Bale. No, Cuil has been hailed by more than a few as a potential Google killer, the sort of bold statement that makes copy-hungry bloggers like myself stir slightly in our moist chairs.
The big buzz around Cuil is that some of its designers once worked for Google, and thus have detailed knowledge of the 11 herbs and spices that make Google's search algorithm so effective and crispy. This is a pretty big deal - algorithms are the reason we all use Google instead of say, that butler thing. So having a couple Google-caliber geniuses build a new search engine has gotten a lot of very dull people get their panties into a very big twist. Will Cuil be as groundbreaking as Google was itself?
When Google showed up on the scene, search engines were terrible. For even the simplest queries you'd have to scroll through page after page of results to find what you were really looking for. But when Google invented itself (as I understand it) in 1998 it was light-years ahead of everything else around. I remember the first time I used Google, and how excited I was that it found exactly what I was looking for.
So what's Cuil like in comparison? (here I assume you lack the skill-sets to test a search engine yourself) Well it's exactly the same as every other non-Google search engine you've used, except the font's a little smaller. Also there's columns. Admittedly columns are a good idea, but not exactly a "Manhattan Project" scale breakthrough, or even a "quilted toilet paper" scale breakthrough.
More importantly, it turns out Cuil isn't actually that good at searching yet. Try typing "wiki burgess meredith" into both Google and Cuil for example (if you haven't already). This is pretty routine for Google, but Cuil doesn't find anything even remotely useful. Hilariously, the first link it does find is for a Chinese wiki page for Rocky V with the following pull quote "Her character was shown to have ended up as Rocky predicted she would: a whore..."
There are reasons to be hopeful for Cuil however. With it's stranglehold over the search market, Google can get away with some pretty iffy decisions. They've admitted to storing our individual search logs basically indefinitely, and only agreed to anonymize them at 18 months after much protest. These logs ostensibly are used to help them improve their software, but the thought of one company knowing so much about me and my interests is a little disquieting. So if Cuil, you know, manages to stop berating whores long enough to find what I'm looking for, I'd happily give it a chance.
On a side note, I think the name "Cuil" is the most calculated piece of horseshit I've ever heard of. It's like they locked a guy in a room with a case of Red Bull and a bag full of Scrabble tiles and told him not to come out until he had a short, catchy sequence of letters that was almost but not quite a word.
Given similiar instructions, I wouldn't have settled for anything less than Ssthinktar. Also maybe Def Leppard.
Edit: Heh. Just noticed this as I was finishing up.