Ambiently is a “discovery engine” (as they prefer to be called) because as opposed to “search engine” that searches based on the keyword you specify, Ambiently discovers more pages based on the URL you are viewing.
What a discovery engine does is work with a search engine for the rest of the information-seeking journey. It works best when you are already in the “neighborhood” of a webpage of relevant information. When you pick a big ripe blueberry on a bush, very likely there will be many more around! This is something unique about a discovery engine, something it might be doing better than a search engine.
It works via browser bookmarklet (you can grab it from the tool home page) – when reading any page, just click it and you will be brought to the list containing more pages in some or another way related to the current page topic. Some points for you to make the most of it:
- Ambiently works best with pages on a specific topic (better for inner pages than (blog) home page);
- Per my experience it works best with brand names, tool names and domain names.
I’ve had a word with the developer and here’s how he describes how the tool works:
The weakness of today’s web is its linking structure: manually-coded hyperlinks can hardly connect all relevant web content together. As a result, the web is only loosely connected. People have to rely on search engines to find information.
To solve this fundamental problem, Ambiently connects semantically similar or relevant webpages together in an automated way.
To do so, Ambiently collects content and metadata from webpages, analyzes their meaning and data structure with its proprietary algorithms and rulebase, and builds link lists (ambient pages) accordingly.
Let’s test it:
- Let’s say I am currently reading SEJ recent post on FireFox keyboard shortcuts and need to find more information on the topic;
- So I just click Ambiently bookmarklet while on the page and get the list of related articles;
- Let’s take a closer look at that list – there we can see:
- Same post scraped by other blogs;
- A couple of links really offering more information on the related topic (like MUO post);
- A few general links about FireFox itself (like Blog Herald Browser guide);
- A few not-so-related links (like the one about Ann Smarty or Google PageRank.
- Conclusion: quite a few really good finds which is awesome in itself!
Sometimes you may notice that ambient links on an ambient page are not relevant. This is caused by a combination of many factors: the data structure of the original webpage, the data Ambiently can get from that site, the current scope/capability of our algorithms and rules, and the limitation of our foreign language support, among others.
Short note (totally irrelevant but I couldn’t help mentioning it because of that link devil inside of me): there’s one more thing that differentiates Ambiently from search engines we are aware of: its results page consists of direct absolutely “dofollow” links…
The search startup was reviewed under SEJ policy.