Monday, November 1, 2010

Can Blekko Slash Google?

There's a new kid on the search engine block called blekko. While it's got the wacky nomenclature apparently required to compete with search giants Google and Bing, it obviously takes a lot more than a silly name to arrive at the point where the verb phrase "let me blekko that," enters common use.

What does blekko have that, oh, say, Google does not? Two things, apparently. One is that it aims to cut down on 'spam' results by providing only links to sites it deems reliable. The second difference is that it allows a certain amount of customization in its search through its innovative use of '/' tags.

For example, Googling 'barack obama' brings up (after a slew of news links) his official website as the top search result. Blekko does that too. But if you're interested to find out what liberals think of him, blekko 'barack obama /liberal' and the top link is The Huffington Post. If you're more curious about what the opposition thinks of him, 'barack obama /conservative' brings up a link to The American Thinker.

Clever.

Incorrigible hipster that I am, the search terms that I most want to disambiguate are band names. Googling 'metric' tends to return page upon page about the international unit of measurement system, with nary a word about the innovative Canadian rock band fronted by Emily Haines of Broken Social Scene. And while the eletronic/violin solo act entitled Final Fantasy released two unusual albums in the mid 00's, trying to dig through all the noise generated by the massive video game franchise of the same name is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

What I wanted was a /band tag, and blekko allowed me to quickly create one. I added keywords like 'music' and 'artist' and suggested some sites like myspace (most bands still maintain pages there), Wikipedia and Youtube. Then I did a search for 'metric /band'. The top result? The song "Help I'm Alive," the band's big single off their newest album. Not bad. The rest of the page of results are similarly music-related, with nary a whisper about liters or kilograms. Also good. The main negative is that none of the results is for ilovemetric.com, the band's homepage.

Searching for 'final fantasy /band' is less successful, but still pretty good. The top result is a last.fm page about the band, and the rest of the results are an interleving of band references and video game references. To be fair this is a hard one, as the soundtracks to the video game series are well regarded and widely available.

Anyway, give blekko and my custom /band tag a try. I'm interested to know what people are searching for, and what they come up with.

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