I was fourteen, and my friend Heather had mentioned it to me whilst sitting in the high school computer room monitoring our faux stock portfolios on Yahoo. I clearly remember this as the first time I encountered Google, and we’ve had a solid relationship ever since. Now in an age when Google is seen as the unbeatable über supreme in the realm of intelligent web solutions and spin-off technologies, it’s hard to believe that anything else could ever dominate. But surely not forever, as most things do eventually tend to wane or go out of fashion. And as it happens, Google may now have found its match in a rival engine that promises to be the one that out-runs all those others that have tried to compete and have invariably failed.
News of former Google employees having defected to form their own internet start-up doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, former Microsoft employees started up HauteSecure, a former Sun exec delved into Penguin Computing, and crossovers have been made between Nintendo, Microsoft and countless others. What’s different about this, however, is direct product substitution: Cuil, pronounced ‘cool’ and derived from the Gaelic word for knoweledge, is very keen on competing with Google. And unlike newbies Mahalo, Wikia and Powerset, Cuil is given a fighting chance of potential by tech-spectators due to the background and knowledge of its founders. So with a name that may add insult to future injury, what makes Cuil so special? Well, it claims to have more than 120 billion pages of indexed information — allegedly more than Google, although Google’s exact figure is undisclosed. Additionally, it utilizes an intelligent recognition feature to digest information and search-term input. Probably most important, though, is the fact that it doesn’t retain search information, which comes as good news whilst controversy over issues surrounding AdSense, Viacom’s attempted infringement on YouTube privacy, and the ad-serving system Phorm is still ripe. But all that aside, it’s very much a wait-and-see scenario as per usual, in part dependent upon funding for development, marketing and the web-populace’s willingness to become sentimentally attached to a new engine. To start, I must admit that the black background and scheme is a welcome relief from all the whiteness marked by stark primary colours. And I’m open to the possibilities: currently with 30 employees and a matching million dollars each worth of venture capital, who knows how cool Cuil really will become…
Sarah Badr © MMVIII
See also: Cuil