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Blinkx – Web, News, and Desktop Search Engine Tool

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Blinkx – Web, News, and Desktop Search Engine Tool

Search Tools
Search the Web, the News, and Your Computer with Blinkx

The other day Searchblog ran an item about blinkx, a new web, news, and desktop search application (here’s a screenshot) for Windows (Mac and Mozilla versions are coming soon), that ResourceShelf learned about a few weeks ago. I hope to chat with the company soon. Until then, a quick overview of the blinkx beta release.
Remember, desktop search is all the rage these days. Google has a project and Ask Jeeves just purchased Tukaroo. Hotbot/Lycos has already released a desktop app that isn’t bad (and includes an RSS aggregator). Companies like X1 also offer desktop search tools.

The Basics
+ Free to download and use.
+ Download is fast (about 4.5MB). I did have problems disabling blinx (via the system tray) and then trying to restart it.
+ The company stresses this is a “concept” search tool as opposed to a “keyword” search tool. We’ve heard rumors about where the technology comes from and will try to confirm. An explanation of what this exactly means would be useful.
+ Three types of content are searchable (local documents, news search, and web).
+ Local docuements can include your Outlook, Outlook Express, or Eudora mail files.

A search queries all three content types simultaneously. Each has its own results window in the client.

+ All Search Types
++ Results change immediately as you add or remove terms.
++ Proximity searching with “” appears not to work.

+ Local/Desktop Search
++ Queries material on your hard drive.
++ Document title is provided, roll over the title and a snippet is available.
++ It would be useful if your search term(s) were shown in context.
++ I was not able to tell the indexer to not index specific folders or filetypes. If this feature is available (it should be), I was unable to find the location.
++ Click and document opens.

+ News Search
++ Queries Morevover database.
++ Article title provided.
++ Cursor over the title and a snippet is provided, search term highlighted. It would be useful to be able to see the source of the article at this point.
++ Click and article opens in a new window.

+ Web Search
++ Unable to determine which web database results are coming from.
++ Page title provided.
++ Cursor over the title and a snippet is provided, search term highlighted.
++ Click and page opens in a new window.

blinkx also provides a small toolbar that “floats” near the top of a browser window. Three icons will activate when blinkx finds — “related” local, news, and web content that it believes will be of interest to you as you browse various web pages.

Simply click on a toolbar icon and a list of “related pages” appears. Click again and the page opens. After spending some time browsing the web and reviewing “related” links via blinkx, I found most of this “web” related content not very useful. When looking at news content, I found that blinkx did an OK job saving some time and clicks finding related articles. However, it’s far from ideal.

All of this reminds me of Kenjin, a tool from Autonomy, that was available several years ago. IMHO (and I think many others), it did not work well. Kenjin is no longer available.

+ Another Beta (blinkx Query) provides a web-based tool.
+ Offers same search capabilies as client software (local documents, news search, web).
+ Offers search suggestions and refinements in the left margin. Not bad.
+ Users can “refine” results by selecting one or more snippets and then clicking the “refine search” button.
+ Offers a results visualization tool (java app). It’s similar to what’s available from anacubis, TouchGraph, and others.

Bottom Line
+ A very arly Beta release so it’s somewhat unfair to make more than a few comments/suggestions.
+ In what might be the most important area, relevancy of results, blinkx needs work. I’ve seen worse, but improvements are needed especially with web search.
+ I don’t mind client software but others do and/or are unable to load in the workplace. Web version a good idea.
+ No keyword ads on result pages. Will they eventually appear? How will blinkx derive its revenue? Will the client software move to a fee-based model?
+ Better documentation and an explanation of “concept” searching is needed.
+ You can learn more about the company leadership here.
+ As new search tools go, this is one to take a look at and keep an eye on. We will. More later.

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Gary Price is the Editor of ResourceShelf and a librarian, information research consultant, and writer based in suburban Washington D.C.

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