Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Lekko my Blekko. (Sorry--I couldn't resist. With a name like Blekko, they're almost begging for someone to make some snappy remarks.) Have you heard about Blekko? Probably not, I suppose. And that's where I come in. Blekko is a new search engine that is trying to prove its significance by showing how it does stuff Google doesn't do. At this point, some of you are no doubt wondering why in the world anyone would use a search engine other than Google. To that, I'll say that the tech world is slowly filling up with examples of companies that once seemed so dominant that no one would ever overtake them, only to eventually fall from grace. (Microsoft anyone? Internet Explorer used to have an iron grip on browsers--not so anymore.) So I'm all for new efforts at beating Google, not because I dislike Google, but because I think in the struggle to continually come up with something better, consumers like you and me win.

So what does Blekko do? As they put it: "blekko is a better way to search the web by using slashtags. slashtags search only the sites you want and cut out the spam sites. use friends, experts, community or your own slashtags to slash in what you want and slash out what you don't."

Hmm. Slashtags, huh? Did that make sense to you? Allow me to explain. Basically, people can come up with lists of good websites in a certain subject, and then assign a slashtag to that list. So sites about dogs would have be labeled /dog. Then, when you only want to search those good dog sites, you'd go to Blekko and add /dog to your search. Voila. No spam results. In theory, at least. So Blekko's saying that if you use their engine, you'll only get relevant results--or at least you won't get filler results from non-related sites.

Will this work?

It might. I did a search for my name, adding /people after it, and it came up with six results, all of which had to do with me. That's a good sign. (There have been "Google Killers" in the past that haven't even really worked that well as search engines.) But just because it works doesn't mean it'll catch on. One concern I have is that the engine is essentially asking you to learn a new way to search--you have to learn their lingo if you want to use the engine to its fullest. Plus, who decides what sites are included in a slashtag? Blekko? So one company gets a lot of power over results lists. At least with Google, there's some semblance that the results list is dependant on a fancy algorithm, not potentially biased humans.

So the jury's out. I'll be surprised if this one takes off, as I don't see the majority of people willingly putting in the effort necessary to use the engine the way it was designed, but I've been wrong before. What do you think?

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