The World Wide Web will have its 30th birthday in 2022, three decades after CERN researcher Sir Tim Berners-Lee created a hypertext market protocol for viewing Internet documents and a browsing device to view them. Since then, one deficiency has become apparent in this model: We have to rely on search engines to find everything.
The early web didn’t even use search engines. Instead, it relied on directories, which is how Yahoo and Dmoz got their start. But the web quickly outgrew even the most sophisticated directory structure and left us all to type queries to find anything.
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and a few other heavy players have risen to the top of the search market, but consumers are starting to look around for the next generation in web search. Here’s a list of innovative search engines that may not take Google’s place, but certainly will be worth the occasional visit.
A union of artificial intelligence and database queries, WolframAlpha is an “answer engine” which tries to provide direct answers to more scholarly, engineering queries. It’s not intended for general web browsing, but perfect for solving equations on the fly.
A new generation of open source innovation has hit the search engine market. Gigablast is built on an open-source language and licensed through Apache, just like the webserver.
There’s no question what Gigablast is doing with your data since the code is right there to read. That being said, it’s a bit clunky as a search engine, but it’s destined to improve with the crowdsourced development that open source is famous for.
A specialized search that makes you wonder what took them so long to come up with it. Hot finds “hot” results – read “adult” – in answer to any query, and serves those up in an automatic incognito mode, so what you’re looking for is just between you and them. Who wants corporations snooping over our shoulders when we pursue our most intimate interests?
SocialMention is a web stat gathering tool that takes your query and tracks how often it is mentioned in social media. Not only that, it analyzes activity patterns to determine the impression of the public’s view of the topic, related keywords, and more. It’s great for finding out what everybody else is buzzing about.
Not even remotely new, but worth a look for this old web standard since it’s reinvented itself. Now focused on safe browsing, HotBot prunes search results of potential harmful clicks harboring spam and malware. HotBot has been comfortable to be a background player, quietly researching and blogging security trends on its own.
Another social buzz tool, BoardReader searches only message boards for queries. Scanning the likes of Reddit, Quora, and other discussion venues, it’s best used to find out what the public opinion is for a topic, without the big media outlets getting in the way.
At the forefront of the new data privacy movement, DuckDuckGo has gained a foothold with security-conscious users who object to having their data mined by other search engines. DuckDuckGo aggregates queries from other databases into a clean serving of results free of content filtering and anonymously.