Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What a little more thought can get you....

I've been a bit frustrated with search for a while, but have largely accepted that I have to deal with what is there. A Google search often takes me through 5 pages of results before I give up with my question only partially answered. I try to be selective and click only the urls that look like they may yield something, but it can be hard to distinguish when it all looks the same.

Someone sat in my office one day and asked "Will people ever get that Google doesn't cut it? Will they ever change their search paradigm?" At the time, I thought perhaps, but really didn't see where the next solution could come from.

Mahalo and Mosio have been on my radar for a while. People-powered search can have intriguing possibilities. Although I think if I turn to a group of people, I want it to be a group of people I know - ie those I follow on Twitter - so that I understand the perspective the answers are coming from. It depends on whether I'm searching for tilapia recipes or for data on the US foodie market and how foodies congregate online.

Now, I've started to play around with Viewzi - a new visual search tool - getting into the beta with a code from Marketing Pilgrim. For intense data searches, it doesn't seem to perform necessarily better than Google, but the real difference is the experience, anyway.

Viewzi has a few advantages that are fast winning me over:
  • The visual workflow is very slick - I like the animation, the way you move through results, and the screenshots and images are very well done.
    • Seeing the pages before you go to them is huge. I know other engines do this, but I haven't played with them. Viewzi also has a summary in the "frame" of the text on the page, that gives you a much better idea of the fit of the link than just trying to judge the URL.
- a Viewzi screenshot via Travis Isaacs' blog
  • I love that other categories of info are automatically included in each search. For example - a search on "tilapia recipe" pulls up standard search results, aggregate results from Google, Yahoo, Ask.com , and MSN - and also two different types of photo results, video, Amazon, mp3, weather, Reuters, shopping, and TechCrunch.
    • Google has increased the ease of searching images and video, but they're all in separate tabs, so you have to think about it more. With Viewzi, I may find video clips or books related to dinner without thinking of that ahead of time.
    • MP3? Probably not so much. It did pull up some audio, like "Recipe for a happy marriage" from Gary Petty of Good News Radio.
The search for recipes actually got me many more options than I would have considered from a search that returned a text list - and the dish I picked was pretty yummy - bonus!

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