Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Cuil and medieval underpants ...

Like everyone else today, I've been trying out Cuil, the new search engine. And I've come away unconvinced.

First of all I searched for my name. Always a good one, given that I've a lot of detritus on the internet and share my slightly uncommon surname with an eminent jazz musician, a Jamaican athlete and well known Sydney restaurant.

Well, it didn't come up with an ordered list of articles ranked in some way, and there were a few funnies, like some aquatic plant websites that are nothing at all to do with me - or nayone else with my surname as far as I can tell. Not a lot of page ranking going on.

So then I searched for "medieval underpants". There was method in my madness - at the Leeds medieval conference earlier this month there was a paper on the role increased use of underwear had in an increase of literacy in later medieval europe. (If you don't believe me check out this report from the Guardian).

This is the sort of story that news editors like as filler for light relief - loony historians with knicker fascination etc, and as such should have been commonly picked up on half a dozen new sites - which is exactly what you find with Google.

Cuil doesn't do this - the only reference was to a Chinese web site that refused to load.

Now I may be doing it a mis-service, but for the moment I'd describe it as 'pretty but fairly useless'. Google remains a much better search engine.


dgm said...

as a control I reran the "medieval underpants" search on google, yahoo, windows live search and cuil within a couple of minutes of each other.

The results and ordering for google, yahoo and windows live search were similar, cuil's results were different and crucially less relevant.

This was a subjective test with no detailed analysis, but a number of other people seem to be reporting similar experiences

dgm said...

on the other hand I've just re-run the test using a slightly less exotic query string - manzikert grid and got perfectly reasonable and comparable search results from both cuil and the other search engines ...