Kosmix and the universe of search

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The New York Times writes about Kosmix, a start up company often described on blogs and news sites as a search engine that may someday rival Google. Kosmix describes itself as letting users ‘explore the Web by topic, presenting a dashboard of relevent (sic – their spelling!) videos, photos, news, commentary, opinion, communities and links to related topics’. This kind of aggregation of content from multiple sources is not new in Search. Yahoo has a product called Glue, which was first tested in India and then rolled out globally. Yahoo Glue typically aggregates content from Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube and news sources. So does Kosmix, but it goes one step beyond. According  to the NYT article, ‘the company has built a huge taxonomy, a set of nearly five million categories on topics from people and locations to car models, music groups and types of cheese. It draws that content not only from Web sites, but also from more than 1,000 specialized Web services, search sites that focus on single topics, and databases connected to the Internet’. I wanted to see both Kosmix and Yahoo Glue in action by searching for L K Advani. The Kosmix search result is here and the Yahoo Glue one here. The Kosmix search result seems more complete (including Twitter feeds that mention Advani), diverse and presented well.

Advani Kosmix

Kosmix’s goal is to ‘tell you more about something’ and go beyond mere search. They don’t want to compete with Google and that’s a good thing. As I see it, even after knowing about Kosmix and experiencing it, my default search engine is likely to be Google. My last two search terms on the net were: Geo TV, Facebook bookmarket – both simply as a quick means to get to the right URL. But when I have to research or know more about a topic, like say Angioplasty I may turn to something like Kosmix.

For us in India, a minor high is also the people behind Kosmix – reads like an IIT Alumni meet up in Chennai or Bangalore. I quite liked the way they hyperlinked even their alumni in the about pages – links to the Kosmix page rather than the institution’s official site. With even more explosion of information on the net, sites like Kosmix makes it handy for those seeking information that is already sifted for them. In the search space, there is still room for such players. But as the lines between search, news sites and online newspaper sites are merging and the coming days will see further competition there. For now, I am hooked to Kosmix.

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