Walt at Random

Enlightening or disturbing?

I was going to write a series of posts describing each essay in the current Cites & Insights, and still plan to do so.

But this hit me by surprise–a LISNews item pointing to a makeuseof.com post pointing to Blind Search.

Blind Search?

People who care deeply about open web search engines spend a lot of time figuring out which engine is better for which purposes. For most users, though–at least the minority who appear to be aware that Google’s not the only game in town–the look and feel of a site may be as important as the apparent results.

Blind Search takes that away, at least for three major open web search engines. You type in a search. You get back the first 10 results for each of three search engines, displayed in three parallel columns. You click on one of three “vote for this search engine” buttons, based on the column of results that seem to match your query best.

Then, and only then, Blind Search shows you the engine used for each column.

Maybe both

I try to rotate searches to some extent. My FireFox search box includes several major engines along with some specialized tools (WorldCat.org, IMDB, Citizendium, that other web encyclopedia). But, yeah, I probably use Google more than the others…

So this morning I tried some searches at Blind Search. An ego search (oh, come on, you don’t do ego searches?). A semi-ego search, “Cites & Insights.”

While the results were similar (as you’d expect), the same engine seemed to yield the best spread of first-ten results in both cases.

I just now tried it on ScienceBlogs. The same engine seemed to yield a slightly better set of results than the other two (a small difference).

A silly search (memory of water). Hmm. One engine was just a little better.

By now, you’ve probably guessed the engine that came out “best” in the first few tests–and it certainly isn’t what I’d expect.

Maybe bing is on to something.

(Or maybe not. The more searches I try, the more diffuse the results. Still…)

Comments

  1. #1 Markk
    June 11, 2009

    I gave Bing a try and it was horrible at technical searches and pop searches. It really does seem to be livesearch renewed. I hope it stays around though. I want some kind of viable alternative to Google.

    Welcome by the way to Science blogs! Speaking of Google I hope you and the other librarian types here will do some discussion about this book deal that now seems to be under scrutiny with Google essentially gaining control over orphan works.

  2. #2 Walt Crawford
    June 11, 2009

    Markk: A classic case of YMMV–I’m not at all surprised that Bing did as badly on some cases as it seemed to do well on others. I guess I’d assume Yahoo! is still a viable alternative to Google…

    As for your second note, such discussion hasn’t been lacking. The current Cites & Insights (see this post and a forthcoming abstract) includes a followup essay on reaction to a 30-page discussion I published in February (Cites & Insights 9:4); that essay points to lots of other discussions. On the other hand, my perspective may not agree with yours–I may be in the minority among those discussing this.

  3. #3 markk
    June 11, 2009

    Thanks, I’ll look. It is an interesting issue. There are good points on both sides. “Inherency” as they used to call it in HS debate makes me somewhat leery. On the other hand I think it may force legislation to deal with copyright.

  4. #4 JURN
    June 11, 2009

    I saw very good results from Bing, better than Google, in my recent academic search group-test:

    http://jurnsearch.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/an-academic-search-group-test/

  5. #5 zayıflama
    June 17, 2009

    I’m not at all surprised that Bing did as badly on some cases as it seemed to do well on others.