Posted by: reformedmusings | September 13, 2008

Living with Searchme

I posted previously on the new Searchme visual search engine. I’ve been using it with regularity since that post and have a few observations.

Searchme definitely needs a solid broadband connection. It works great in Firefox 3.01 on my 6 mbps cable connection with 12 mbps burst boost (download). I tried it on a 768 kbps DSL connection with Firefox 3.01, and it was a bit painful. Searchme loaded and worked, but the display was annoyningly slow. That fits with Searchme’s design assumptions. It’s apparent to me that when they say broadband, they are talking cable or fiber, not DSL. Not a complaint on my part, just exploring the boundaries.

The underlying structure of Searchme’s engine seems to be category-based. The icons illustrated in my earlier post allow the searcher to emphasize the most likely area of success. This works pretty well most of the time. I believe that, just as the interface and stack systems are still developing, so is the basic search engine, so we haven’t seen its final state yet.

The box in which you type the search terms isn’t a fully-functional text box with full text manipulation. Controls like Ctrl-Backspace, Ctrl-Delete don’t work in the box. Arrow controls do work, though. I use Ctrl-Backspace a lot and can hardly wait for an upgrade of the search box.

What about the overall concept? Is there value-added to a visual search engine? In three letters or less, yes. I have used GooglePreview in Firefox for some time. While it looked cool, it wasn’t all that helpful. But in Searchme, I can see the entire page in a recognizable and almost readable form. You can read the titles on the pages, which together with the overall page impression helps quickly identify both good possibilities and dead ends. It’s hard to believe until you’ve done it for a while. It works more often than it doesn’t, especially if you spend a significant amount of time on the web.

What about the actual search results? Well…most of the tiime it does pretty well. I don’t think that it’s up to Yahoo! or Google level yet, though. Since it’s only a beta version, I’m not too concerned. The idea has great merit, the motif grows on you quickly, and the page categorization approach has real potential. I think that the folks at Searchme have hit on a winner concept which could change the Internet search game if they put serious effort into polishing it up.

But first, get some real broadband.

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