Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Cuil is a search engine founded by Tom Costello (Computer Science PhD from Stanford University), Anna Patterson (Computer Science PhD from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and Russell Power (PhD in not finishing a PhD).  Cuil seeks to attack semantic search like the previously featured Powerset engine.  But its most salient feature is the attractive column-and-images layout and various visual gimmicks.  As Cuil explains:
"Different ideas are separated into tabs; we add images and roll-over definitions for each page and then make suggestions as to how you might refine your search. We use columns so you can see more results on one page.
We think that if you are interested in content rather than popularity, you’ll find our approach more useful."
Zing!  Cuil has generated a great amount of publicity for a search engine joining the race this late.  These not-so-subtle pot-shots at Google explain part of the exaggerated hype and what web writer Richard MacManus feels is a disproportionate amount of publicity.  The other part is probably the folkloric name origin:  
"Cuil is the Gaelic word for both knowledge and hazel, and features prominently in ancient legend. One famous story tells of a salmon that ate nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Fountain of Wisdom and thereby gained all the knowledge in the world. Whoever ate the salmon would acquire this knowledge.

A famous poet fished for many years on the River Boyne hoping to catch the Salmon of Knowledge. When he finally caught it, he gave it to his young apprentice Finn McCuil to prepare, warning him not to eat any. As Finn cooked the salmon he burnt his thumb and instinctively sucked it to ease the pain. And so it was Finn and not the poet who gained all the wisdom of the world. Finn went on to become one of the great heroes of Irish folklore. Any time he needed to know the answer to a question, he sucked his thumb."
Apparently you're supposed to pronounce it "cool," but I'm going to stick with my instincts and continue rhyming it with the French word douil in my head. Because a little French wino lives in there, and you just don't argue with the French about wine.

According to my very un-scientific tests, so far Cuil didn't find things better than Google. But the resultes sure looked pretty. 


Guy Danus said...

yay early post! can i just say zomg you stole this article from my mind before i told you about it? :O

get out of my head!!

W. E. B. Du Blag said...

That is crazy!!! You get out of mine! You get telepathy credit. I like how it's all insta-wish granted.