A Partial List of Search Engines: Yep, Really Incomplete

February 17, 2017

I read “Better Than Google: 7 Search Engines You Should Try.” I love that should. Very parental. Sometimes parents are wrong, however. I noted this passage:

There is no argument about Google being a reliable and popular search engine. But if you are interested in one that suits your specific interest, search type, or desire to help others, then check out these awesome seven alternatives.

I love that word awesome.

Okay, here are the sever search engines mom and dad want me to try out:

  • DuckDuckGo
  • Ixquick, now repositioned as StartPage
  • Vimeo
  • Yahoo image search
  • FindSounds
  • Ecosia
  • Lilo, which pops up an “add to Opera” link and reports that Opera is not supported. Interesting.


Not familiar with these. Well, you will find the research  these deliver “awesome.”

I would point out that free Web search engines are struggling for traffic. In one of our HonkinNews’ programs we pointed out that DuckDuckGo “crowed” about having processed about 15 million queries in one day. Google fields billions in 24 hours.

For thorough research, it is often useful to check out such systems as Bing, Qwant, and Yandex. If one is looking with extreme prejudice, a dip into iseek.com, Giburu, or (heaven forbid) commercial services.

But awesome does not mean thorough. Awesome means a nifty view or a sense of apprehension and fear. Yep, that’s what I experience when I learn that I should try these search engines. Stirring.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2017

Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

The Current State of Enterprise Search, by the Numbers

February 17, 2017

The article and delightful Infographic on BA Insight titled Stats Show Enterprise Search is Still a Challenge builds an interesting picture of the present challenges and opportunities surrounding enterprise search, or at least alludes to them with the numbers offered. The article states,

As referenced by AIIM in an Industry Watch whitepaper on search and discovery, three out of four people agree that information is easier to find outside of their organizations than within. That is startling! With a more effective enterprise search implementation, these users feel that better decision-making and faster customer service are some of the top benefits that could be immediately realized.

What follows is a collection of random statistics about enterprise search. We would like to highlight one stat in particular: 58% of those investing in enterprise search get no payback after one year. In spite of the clear need for improvements, it is difficult to argue for a technology that is so long-term in its ROI, and so shaky where it is in place. However, there is a massive impact on efficiency when employees waste time looking for the information they need to do their jobs. In sum: you can’t live with it, and you can’t live (productively) without it.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 17, 2017

Google and G Suite Unified Search: More Fragmentation, Not Less

February 16, 2017

I read “Google Brings Unified Search To G Suite With Cloud Search.” Now let’s think about the word “unified.” My understanding is that the definition is:

To make into or become a unit; consolidate.

The write up explains

With Cloud Search, G Suite users will now have a tool in their pocket that allows them to more easily pinpoint the information that they need for any task whether that information be a specific document or a collection of photos. Cloud Search blends the power of Google Search for the web with machine intelligence technology, and with it users can simply search for the files and data they need but the app will also make recommendations to users as time goes on. The app does this through the use of what Google is calling “assist cards” which have the ability to suggest a specific file or document to a user that may be useful for a certain task.


Fragmentation? What fragmentation?

The idea of providing a basic search and retrieval function for cloud documents on the Google system is obvious to me. What troubles me is that “unified’ is not the search of my dreams.

If I want to find a document in Gmail, I use the search box on the Gmail page. If I want access to Google Patents, Google Books, or any one of a dozen other Google services like News, I have to run separate queries. When I run a query on Google.com and want to see an image, I have to reenter my search terms when I switch to the Google Image search box.

Hey, this is not unified, gentle reader. This is crazy fragmentation. I heard a Google big wheel say, “Fragmentation. We don’t have fragmentation.”

Yeah, right, Mr. Google Wizard. Finding information across Google’s silos is a tedious, frustrating task. With each “unified” service the research becomes increasingly annoying. But, hey, Google is wonderful. Federated search? What’s that?

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2017

Lucidworks (Really?) Channels Exalead Circa 2006

February 16, 2017

I know that many search wizards have short memories. If the mavens have long memories, the thought process may be that no one remembers the past. Yo, gentle reader, I do. Exalead, a search and retrieval system, spawned by a former member of the AltaVista team is now part of Dassault, the French super engineering firm. At one time, clear eyed marketers at Exalead decided that the best way to sell licenses to Exalead’s pretty good search system was to position the system as the enabler of search based applications. One of the Dassault Exalead wizards wrote a book about this. The book appeared in 2011 as “Search Based Applications: At the Confluence of Search and Database Technologies” by Dr. David Grefenstette and Laura Wilbur.

Imagine my surprise when I read “Lucidworks Fusion 3 Enables Teams to Build Enterprise Search Apps Easier and Faster.” The write up explains:

Fusion 3 provides out-of-the-box capabilities for teams seeking to build robust enterprise-level search applications. With greater operational simplicity, IT personnel can now leapfrog months ahead in the development cycle, which allows them to focus on customizing applications to meet unique business needs. Shortening the development cycle even more, a streamlined guided setup feature makes Fusion 3 accessible to non-technical teams who can quickly build search applications that meet high user expectations.

There you go. A decade after the Exalead push for search based applications, Lucidworks (really?) has recycled another vendor’s concept. Note that the phrase “search based applications” was not new to Exalead. I recall hearing it used by one of Personal Library Software’s marketers decades earlier.

Will Lucidworks (really?) marketing pitch generate revenue? Exalead used its positioning to sell itself to Dassault in 2009? Will Lucidworks (really?) find a buyer? There are a number of open source integrators floating around.

More than recycled plastic is going to be needed to spark a renaissance in vendors piggybacking on the free and open source Lucene and Solr software in my opinion.

Then there is search history, but that’s no longer important or even interesting. This type of search marketing recycling amuses me, and I was an adviser to Exalead and one of the reviewers of the Search Based Applications book.

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2017

Canada: Right to Be Forgotten

February 15, 2017

I found this interesting. According to “Did a Canadian Court Just Establish a New Right to Be Forgotten Online?

the Federal Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling that paves the way for a Canadian version of the right to be forgotten that would allow courts to issue orders with the removal of Google search results on a global basis very much in mind. The case – A.T. v. Globe24H.com – involves a Romanian-based website that downloaded thousands of Canadian judicial and tribunal decisions, posted them online and demanded fees for their swift removal. The decisions are all public documents and available through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), a website maintained by the legal profession in support of open access to legal materials

I find the logic interesting. I believe that Thomson Reuters processes public legal documents and charges a fee to access them and the “value add” that WestLaw and its sister outfits impose. Maybe I am addled like the goose in Harrod’s Creek, but it seems that what’s good for one gander is not so good for the Google.

Poor Romanian entrepreneur! Come up with an original idea and learn that a country wants the data removed. No word on the views of Reed Elsevier which operates LexisNexis. Thomson Reuters, anything to add?

The removal of links is a hassle at best and a real pain at the worst for the Google. For researchers, hey, find the information another way.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2017

Investment Group Acquires Lexmark

February 15, 2017

We read with some trepidation the Kansas City Business Journal’s article, “Former Perceptive’s Parent Gets Acquired for $3.6B in Cash.”  The parent company referred to here is Lexmark, which bought up one of our favorite search systems, ISYS Search, in 2012 and placed it under its Perceptive subsidiary, based in Lenexa, Kentucky. We do hope this valuable tool is not lost in the shuffle.

Reporter Dora Grote specifies:

A few months after announcing that it was exploring ‘strategic alternatives,’ Lexmark International Inc. has agreed to be acquired by a consortium of investors led by Apex Technology Co. Ltd. and PAG Asia Capital for $3.6 billion cash, or $40.50 a share. Legend Capital Management Co. Ltd. is also a member of the consortium.

Lexmark Enterprise Software in Lenexa, formerly known as Perceptive Software, is expected to ‘continue unaffected and benefit strategically and financially from the transaction’ the company wrote in a release. The Lenexa operation — which makes enterprise content management software that helps digitize paper records — dropped the Perceptive Software name for the parent’s brand in 2014. Lexmark, which acquired Perceptive for $280 million in cash in 2010, is a $3.7 billion global technology company.

If the Lexmark Enterprise Software (formerly known as Perceptive) division will be unaffected, it seems they will be the lucky ones. Grote notes that Lexmark has announced that more than a thousand jobs are to be cut amid restructuring. She also observes that the company’s buildings in Lenexa have considerable space up for rent. Lexmark CEO Paul Rooke is expected to keep his job, and headquarters should remain in Lexington, Kentucky.

Cynthia Murrell, February 15, 2017

Metropolitan Museum of Arts: Images There but Findability Not

February 14, 2017

I recall the Google Life Magazine image collection. I noted the BBC archive of programs. I checked out the Internet Archive’s rich media collection. Years ago I worked on the Library of Congress’ American Memory project. These have a unifying thread:

The content is essentially unfindable.

I read “Metropolitan Museum of Art Puts 375,000 Public Domain Images in Creative Commons.” The write up explains:

As part of a new initiative it’s calling Open Access, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has placed 375,000 images of public-domain works in the Creative Commons. This major, though not unprecedented, move by one of the world’s most important museums means that users can now access pictures of many of the Met’s holdings on Wikimedia…

You can try out the search system at this link. Good luck finding images. Remember Caravaggio is spelled with two g’s. Oh, the query returned a number of false drops.

The way to find images is to browse. Fun. Time consuming. Not good.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2017

Whither ISYS Search Software?

February 13, 2017

I must admit I don’t think too much about ISYS Search Software. Founded in the 1980s, Lexmark acquired the Australian company in 2012. The former IBM printer unit described ISYS as a “global leader” in search. ISYS performed well, but global leader? Well, that’s verbal fireworks in my opinion. ISYS disappeared and emerged (sort of) as the search system in Lexmark’s health care play. This outfit was called Perceptive Software and performed a wide range of magic for a market sector which would presumably make as much money as printer ink once did. Yep, how’s that for an MBA play? Not the full ball game. But Lexmark did not have enough text processing oomph. The company bought Brainware in 2012, an outfit which held patents for trigram, offered pattern matching search technology, and had a work flow system to do some back office tricks. Busy year 2012 for the horsey printer set.

The answer is that Lexmark is now part of Apex and PAG Asian Capital. Stated another way, Lexmark blew money and, like many other companies, learned that search was a tough business to use as a springboard to untold wealth. Lexmark snagged Kofax in 2015 in an attempt to generate money from the world’s need to federate content.

I thought of Lexmark, ISYS, and the gyrations of Lexmark when I read “Lexmark Cuts 320 Software Jobs; Local Toll Unclear.” What units of Lexmark are affected? My hunch is that the trio of Brainware, ISYS, and Kofax may bear the brunt of the weight of the folks looking for new jobs. (Lexmark bought the ETL outfit Kofax, which does some work for interesting US government agencies, licenses tools to one of my favorite outfits with visions of JRR Tolkien, and does not return telephone calls.) My experience with Chinese executives is that they are pragmatic. The write up told me:

“This action was taken to reduce our costs to be more in line with our revenues and those of comparable enterprise software companies,” Sylvia Chansler, a spokeswoman for Lexmark subsidiary Kofax Inc., said in a statement.

The great pivot of Lexmark from printers to management software seems to have failed. Surprised? I am not. I live in rural Kentucky and know that high technology dreams can be difficult to realize in an area where fast horses and expensive bourbon capture one’s imagination.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2017

Everyone Can Be a Search Expert

February 10, 2017

In the bad old days of SDC Orbit and BRS, one had to learn commands to run queries. I remember a pitch from Dow Jones and its nascent “retrieval” experts baying about graphical interfaces. Yep, how has that worked out for the professional researchers. With each “making it easier to search” movement, the quality of the search experts has gone down. I can’t recall the last time I met a person who said, “I am not very good at finding information online.”

Right, everyone is an expert.

The point of my comment about user friendliness is to create a nice little iron hook on which to hand this hypothesis.

Search is going to disappear.

Don’t believe me. Navigate to “Survey: 60 Percent of Voice Users Want more Answers and Fewer Search Results.” The key word is “voice.” This means more Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and voice recognition. The fewer results is a direct consequence of small screens and diminished attention spans.

Who wants to do research which requires:

  1. Identifying sources
  2. Locating information
  3. Reading the information
  4. Thinking about the information
  5. Synthesizing the information
  6. Creating a foot or end note.

Forget the notion of a reference interview, selecting a database editorially shaped to contain higher value information, and scanning an annotated bibliography.



Talk to your phone. The smart software will deliver the answer.

I learned from the write up:

The top three rationales behind voice usage were:

  1. It’s fast.
  2. The answer is read back to me.
  3. I don’t have to type.

About 40 percent of both men and women said that voice made using their smartphones easier. Men were more likely than women to strongly agree. This answer and other data in the survey reflect a mostly positive experience with voice.

Want charts? Want “proof”? Read the source document. My view is that a failure to think about research and go through the intellectual work required to obtain semi reliable, semi accurate information means more time for Facebook and Twitter.

That’s great.

Let’s make it so people will accept the output of a voice search without thinking. There’s absolutely nothing like a great idea with no downside. Wonderful.

Stephen E Arnold, February 10, 2017

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