Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
# 2:59:00 PM:

Shaking out the Web—again

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Those who've been using the Web since its early days remember the search engine wars of the mid-1990s, when HotBot, Magellan, AltaVista, InfoSeek, Northern Light, Lycos, Yahoo!, and a host of others tried to outdo one another in indexing and processing web pages to yield search results. At first, they worked (sort of), then they got hijacked by keyword spammers, and then Google came along in 1998 with a different approach to the problem and ate them all for breakfast. Now there is a similar search war going on, but this time it's for blogs and news feeds, and the fallout is beginning too.

Despite many attempts, none of the hundreds of surviving search sites has managed to unseat Google. When it moved out of beta, it amazed everyone with how much it improved search results—because it harnesses the judgment of everyone who builds web pages, it uses the intelligence of millions of people instead of the brute-force calculations of computers of its predecessors. It has become so pervasive that it influences how people write for the Web.

It does not do especially well with real-time information, however—it often takes several days for news and blog posts to make their way into Google's index, and it is not designed to give particular weight to the increasing use of syndication using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and similar XML-based feeds. In recent years, services such as Technorati, Daypop, Feedster, PubSub, Popdex, Furl, Bloglines, and have tried various approaches to indexing and searching material from blogs, news feeds, and other constantly-changing sites and data flows in and around the web. New sites such as IceRocket are trying too. • [READ MORE at Navarik's Windward...]


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