SearchMe.com

This is from Bates Information Services.

Searchme.com

Searchme is an intriguing new attempt to make web research more like how we look for information in (gasp!) print resources. Its search results page is insanely intuitive, highly visual and yet easy for us text-oriented folks to use. Solely in terms of user-friendliness, Searchme is one of the best search engines I’ve seen. It also does a surprisingly good job at clustering results, and it has a nice feature for easily sharing web pages with others. Note that this site is in public beta, meaning that it is not in its final version, and some features and functions may change without notice. And it has indexed “merely” one billion pages, so it’s working with a significantly smaller index than, say, Google, which hit the one-billion-page mark way back in 2000.

You will notice the differences of Searchme as soon as you type in your search query. There is no “Search” button to click to initiate the search; Searchme starts finding and categorizing results as soon as you start typing. Type the letters S U and N, for example, and small icons appear below the search box with categories such as astronomy, astrology, computer programming, stocks, global warming and so on. Searchme has started retrieving results, sorting them on the fly, and presenting you with ways to slice and dice the results. (There is also a “Search All” icon, if you want to see all the results.) Different queries will have different categories – a search for “oil shale”, for example, generates results sorted in categories for geology, business news, mining, US government, alternative vehicle fuels, and so on.

What is particularly impressive is the search results page. Think of holding a hand of cards – you see one card fully and the other cards in slices. Searchme’s search results page looks somewhat similar. In the middle of the page is an image of the first retrieved web page, with your search words highlighted. On the right is a smaller image of the next result. Drag that to the middle of the screen and the first page shuffles off to the left and a fresh page appears on the right. Double-click any image and you are taken directly to that page, either in the same window or, if you change your preferences, in a fresh window or tab. 

Unlike most search engines, Searchme does not limit the number of pages from a web site displayed in search results. For example, nine out of the first ten search results from the “computer programming” stack of my “sun” search were from the Sun Microsystems web site.

Searchme also supports a page-sharing feature, called a “stack”. If you see a web page you want to save and share with others, simply drag it to the “Stacks” link in the upper right corner of the search results page. (And notice the cool animation of the page as you pick it up and drag it over to the stack.) You can build multiple stacks; each has its own name and settings. And you can directly add pages to a stack by clicking an icon and typing (or pasting) in a URL, title and description. You can share a stack with others in several ways – emailing the URL of the stack, inserting the URL in a blog entry, or sharing it in Digg, Reddit, del.icio.us, Twitter or MySpace. See http://www.searchme.com/stack/5728 for an example of a Searchme stack of pages on Sun Microsystems. Note that, while not listed in a public spot, stacks are not strictly private; anyone who has the URL can view the stack.

Searchme is also collecting stacks on less serious topics. There is a chimney stack (http://www.searchme.com/stack/5512) and a pancake stack (http://www.searchme.com/stack/551b).

My only real grip is that, as of right now, Searchme has no help file or advanced search feature; I’m hoping that these are developed before Searchme graduates out of beta.

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