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Or more accurately bananaslug.com a search engine (although it’s really a discovery engine). It’s powered using a Google Custom Search and works by allowing users to add a random word to their search term based on a topic of their choice. Simply:

1. Enter your search term in the window
2. Select a category for your random word
3. That’s it!

The categories are somewhat random (as you’d hope from such a site I expect) including Shakespearean themes, first and last names, great ideas and the major arcana and suits of the Tarot (?!). From these you’ll be given a random search term which you have no control over.

I had a go with the gentleman of the day Barack Obama and tried a few categories:

  • “Barack Obama” and Great Ideas gave me “Education” as my random term and gave me SERPs about the President’s education, his policies on education and the like.
  • “Barack Obama” and Tarot Arcana and Suits gave me “Chariots” as my random term and gave me a whole host of Obama related horseless chariot metaphors.

It’s a great idea and a good way of discovering some of the weird and wonderful things on the web that you just wouldn’t find using conventional search engines.

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Google revolutionised search over a decade ago by letting site popularity determine where a site appeared in rankings. The wisdom behind this was ‘the wisdom of crowds’ in that the most popular sites would by virtue be the best – not infallible logic but certainly a strong argument.

Liverpool FC crowd

Would you trust this crowd?

But who is to say that sites that are popular are necessarily the best? I mean an average Saturday night on ITV surely exposes debunks that idea.

And now a search engine has emerged called Million Short which removes the top million (or however many you decide) search results from your search and gives you very different search results. Why not give it a go and see what you find? There may be some gems on page 100,000…

Ever seen Minority Report? You know it has that mad little fella who used to be a bit of a sex symbol and is now a scientarianist or something. It’s an okay film but not as good as the book and it has a little something to do with the subject of this post which isa rather funky visual search engine called Search-cube.

Powered by Google Search-Cube takes your search query and presents your search engine result pages as thumbnails grouped together in a three dimensional cube. And it isn’t just full pages. As the image below shows it groups together images, videos and pages.

Search-cube results page

It is essentially a visual re-imagining of cluster search engines like Carrot2 and the now defunct wonder wheel which was an option for displaying search results in Google. Unlike those and other clustering search engines though this has the added visual factor enabling you to preview your results holistically before you click through. This negates the need for scrolling with the user only having to move the cube around. The preview thumbnails are a bit rough round the edges at the moment but this is likely to improve.

And so back to the start of this post and Minority Report where the characters used gloves to navigate the internet through literally grabbing images and pages and looking at them. Search-cube feels like a small step in that direction…oh yes and it’s powered by Google (nothing slips past them does it!).

Over and out.

Finger and pulsating circles

(c) AngelIT 2008

What with the fall of society being blamed on technology by certain corners of society (certain, not very sharp corners if you’ll forgive the pun) it seems only a matter of time before we’re all reduced to a pre-internet state using pens and papers and…oh god it’s too much to imagine. What did people do before the internet?!

Anyway ramblings aside as you can tell from my tone I’m a tad dismissive about the idea that technology was to blame for the horrifying scenes last week across England. Riots aren’t new Twitter is is my concise rebutal to that argument. What the likes of Twitter and other realtime sites does facilitate is the most up-to-date reporting of events across the world that we’ve ever been able to manage as hairless apes.

A relatively new player in the search engine game has appeared as a result: real time search engines. With the phenomenal surge of information being created by the likes of social networks traditional search engines cannot keep up with the pace lagged as they are by their indexed lists of webpages.

My favourite real-time search engine is Twazzup which I discovered from Phil Bradley’s excellent blog a few weeks ago. During the riots I found this a more useful source of information than mainstream search engines or even news sites as it groups together Tweets, news stories, so-called influencers (sites which are generating a lot of content on your search subject) and top links.

Twazzup is just one of many real time search engines to have emerged over the past year and it’s something to keep an eye on with Larry Page admitting it’s a gap in the market which Google hasn’t yet thrown piles of cash at according to this article from  Venturebeat (which also lists a few others you might want to try).

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