Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A new search engine has been launched, named Cuil (pronounced “cool”), which is touting itself as a Google killer. Am I one of the first to write about it? Naw, I doubt it. Maybe one of the first ten thousand. Anyway, they claim to have a bigger index, and, therefore, a better ability to find search results.

I first read about it on Wired, in an article that seemed very positive, but Wired isn’t always that prescient. I thought I’d try it out; I’ve been having trouble writing a plugin for gedit, in Python, that I just can’t quite get working. (I don’t know if it’s because I don’t know Python—which I don’t—or if it’s because I don’t know the gedit/gtk programming model, which is really poorly documented.) I’ve done lots of searches in Google to try and find help on how to debug a plugin, and I’m seeing lots of example plugins and other stuff, but nothing that is helping with my troubleshooting. So I pulled up Cuil, and started searching for things like “help writing a Python plugin for gedit” and similar phrases. Also, for fun, I also searched for “David Hunter”.

What I got was a lot of error messages, and very few search results. In fact, in my gedit-plugin-related searches, I never got any results. In my “David Hunter” searches, I did get a page of results, although I never found myself, and the page seemed to indicate that it was still loading, but never actually finished.

Now, I wasn’t worried about the error messages. It’ll take them a while to get their infrastructure firmed up, and get the kinks worked out. (One might have hoped that they’d have done that before launching, but hey, I’m a forgiving guy.) The thing is, even if the search results were great, even if I’d managed to find everything I was looking for—especially the gedit plugin stuff, since I wasn’t able to find a lot of help through Google—they’d still have an uphill battle trying to unseat Google. Google is more than search. I would go on about it further, but this post from another blog did a better job.

The fact is, Google is pretty darned good, and even if Cuil is better, it is probably only marginally better. If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, regarding my gedit plugin, it’s probably because what I’m looking for doesn’t exist.


David Hunter said...

I should have mentioned, as part of this post, that I’ve already written a long love letter about all the stuff Google can do—which is why I say that Google is “more than search”.

Anonymous said...

Despite the hype, Cuil was never going to convince anyone that it's a Google beater, and I suspect they aren't really treating the site as anything more than a shop front for the indexing engine.

Guarantee that before long the indexing engine is sold to a real search concern (Live and Ask spring to mind) and the Cuil site silently goes away.