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If you’re done joining them, beat them?

It doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but that appears to be the motto over at Cuil* (pronounced “cool”), a new search engine conceived by Stanford University professor Tom Costello and his wife and former Google architect, Anna Patterson as well as two other former Googlers. Cuil, which launches today, makes such herculean claims as being bigger, better and faster than the mighty Google.

Cuil seems to offer the biggest departures from traditional search in three major ways:

1. By being biggest, better and faster and searching much more of the web. Okay, well, we’ll see about that. Even if this is true, it’s not clear whether searching more of the Internet is a good way to add value, whether Cuil’s definition of “better” will jibe with yours, and exactly what they mean by “faster,” as there are many ways to define speed.

2. Through true, multimedia search results, rather than the text results that we are used to. True, Google has been very slowly pursuing universal search**, which stood to display similarly diverse results, it seems that Cuil may have beat them to the punch.

3. By tabbing out popular categories of results. In the video below, we can see that a search for “Harry” is likely to be a search for one of the two most important Harrys in history: Harry Potter or Harry, Prince of Wales. These results, as well as other famous Harrys, are available for you in what will result as additional pages of multimedia information.

Let us put the “bigger, better, faster” argument aside for the moment, as these claims would require thorough and long term scrutiny. The multimedia results are interesting, but old news for those who have been following Google’s on again, off again courtship of universal search. The tabbed, categorized results, though, seem groundbreaking, albeit unproven. Watch the video for a demonstration, as well as a bizarre pronunciation of the word “garage,” which Mr. Costello somehow manages to make rhyme with the word “badge.”

Currently, Cuil’s site is down. This is either very good news or very bad news for the fledgling search engine. It may seem crazy to believe that any company, especially an upstart like Cuil, could seriously challenge Google for supremacy, but you have to hand it to Mr. Costello: the only constant throughout history is change. Google wasn’t always the beast that it is today and they had to usurp a bigger, badder company at one point. You could even make an argument that Microsoft, the biggest, baddest beast of them all, thought to be invincible for so many years, is now being actively challenged and, in at least some areas, finds itself losing ground to Google.

Nothing is impossible and choice will always benefit the consumer. With Cuil’s fresh new approach to search and their vow to uphold user privacy, don’t count them out just yet.

* FYI, “cuil” is apparently Gaelic for “knowledge” and “hazel,” which sounds more like something a tattoo artist would tell an 18-year-old Spring Breaker in Daytona Beach than a great name for a search engine, although you could probably find fault in the name “Google” as well.

** Note that the date of article is May 16, 2007. Google’s search has certainly evolved, but I wouldn’t consider that they have even made significant inroads in achieving the goals purported in the article by SearchEngineLand.com on May 16. A relevant question that begs asking, though, isn’t what slowed Google down, but why Google chose to slow their pursuit. If only we had the time or the knowledge to address that question now. If only…


3 thoughts on “Playing It Cuil
  1. Mike Stone says:

    I spent a good part of my day figuring out how I was really supposed to pronounce “Cuil” I think that is going to be a very big problem for them. If somebody told me to do a search on Cool the new search engine, I would try cool.com..

  2. Christian says:

    Cuil seems very interesting, but I’m just not accustomed to the 3 column search results. I am a fan of the “Explore by Category” feature that they have though!

  3. Amanda says:

    I love the idea of competing with Google, but do a quick search on Cuil, and its obvious they aren’t ready to serve. The results just aren’t there, but I hope they will be in time. I have found Google’s search results to be less relevant and more difficult to sift through lately. Blame it on Google, blame it on SEO, I don’t know, but I know that those first 10 results are becoming increasingly unreliable.

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