Real-time, along with mobile and a few other usual suspects, made many lists of things the web will be in 2010. It just became easier to put real-time search on your website, thanks to a new widget from Collecta. As ReadWriteJolie observed:
Widgets can be created around any search terms imaginable and customized in a number of ways. Results are automatically refreshed… and include results from blogs, microblogs, news feeds and photo sharing services.
This post doesn’t include an example of a Collecta widget, because the widget uses iframe, which isn’t allowed at WordPress.com. Collecta is not among the shortcodes available (at least, not among those documented). I can, however, link you to the relevant post at the Collecta blog (also hosted at WordPress.com).
I do provide an example of a Collecta widget over at WanderNote. That widget gives search results for Evernote, since WanderNote offers to turn Evernote notes into WordPress posts (and to do so free of charge, by the way).
So, what isn’t (just) search? The last week or two has given us great insight into this question.
- Yahoo is not a search company. Good call by CEO Carol Bartz. I’m glad to see that the stock has gone up: I bought some a few months ago, on the basis that things couldn’t get much worse without provoking a takeover.
- Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. It’s “a computational knowledge engine,” and so can do some things better than Google or other search engines.
- Bing is, according to one of its URLs and to the video currently there, a decision engine. I agree with Erick at TechCrunch that Bing isn’t the best name. It makes me think of the singer, and of the song “I’m dreaming of a blue screen of death“.
For the record, I’m not a search engine either. I am married with children.
Searching for good t-shirts? Well, then, how about a search engine just for t-shirts? It didn’t previously occur to me as a good domain for a vertical search engine, but when I read about PleaseDressMe/ (via TechCrunch) I thought it was a great idea.
But what about the execution? My rigorous testing of PleaseDressMe to date consists of searching for shirts relevant to “sasquatch.” The site showed me just one, “Sasquatch In Disguise,” at Threadless. The search results page gave me a price of $17, even though it’s been on sale for $12 for a week now.
The search results didn’t include a rather cool Sasquatch shirt I remember seeing elsewhere a year or too back. Googling for “sasquatch tshirt” yielded many shirts, but not the one I remembered.
I still regard PleaseDressMe as a good, maybe even great idea, and look forward to its improved implementation.
By the way, this post is a rather gentle drift back toward the social media side of Changing Way, after a couple of months of light posting: light in terms of volume of posts, and in terms of the proportion of posts categorized as Fun and not as Web or Business.
The big web story of the day is the launch of Cuil, the search engine with the black background and the ex-Google founders. There are already two strikes against it:
- The service went down shortly after going up. That’s not as serious as it might sound: many heavy hitters take a strike. Or, as kindly old Uncle Mikey TechCrunch put it, flatlining right after your launch is more of a rite of passage than an embarrassment.
- Cuil is coming to bat on Google’s field. Or, as Mashable Stan put it, the entire web bends to Google’s will because every web site wants to be positioned well on Google.
Then I threw Cuil the Changing Way pitch. It got a hit, as you can see. I’ll see how it does in the second inning and beyond…
You can build your own vertical search engine using Topicle. Topicle is a platform for vertical search engines, rather as Ning is a platform for social networks and BricaBox is a platform for social content.
That’s about as exciting as I can make Topicle sound. It’s less of a platform than a veneer on top of the Google Custom Search platform. I set up a Custom Search engine about a year and a half ago. There’s a link to said engine in the sidebar of this blog, since it provides Directions Along the Changing Ways: it enables search of, not just this blog, but the whole happy Changing Way family of sites.
I did create a search engine for Boston at Topicle. I remain underwhelmed. It’s essentially a list of site URIs. Note that you (yes you) can edit the list.
The most interesting part of the exercise came when I tried to make the engine understand the Boston-ness of this blog. Posts I put in the Boston category should be searched. Posts I put in other categories (e.g., WordPress) should not be searched by the Boston engine.
So I included the Boston category by specifying the URI http://changingway.org/category/boston/. Although Topicle/Google accepted the URI, it doesn’t appear to do the corresponding search. I got similar results, or lack of results, when I included the feed for the Boston category.
I know that eclectic blogs like this one present problems for vertical search, but I think it’s a problem that vertical search engines need to solve. Lest you think that this blog is alone in its eclecticism, I give you the example of Fred Wilson.
There’s more enthusiastic coverage of Topicle at RWW and at Mashable. It notes that “former Google Product Manager Steffen Mueller” is behind Topicle.