Tuesday, January 10

Swicki: Can a Cloud Make Search Clearer?

A new search tool is in the footer of LCB for you to try out. Swicki is a new twist on search that promises a more contextualized and a customizable community search. It begins with someone, me in our case, creating an initial instance of the search tool naming key topics that might be interesting to the community. In addition, you can designate universal key worlds that every returned page must include. I chose to require "learning" for the LCB search. You can similarly designate key websites to target or to avoid.

You can set the search to give priority to blogs and/or your website. (I've asked this LCB search to search LCB first and then the web.) After a little bit of configuration work (choosing fonts, search box size, colors, etc), you simply copy some HTML code Swicki gives you and paste it into your site and you are of and running.

Then as members of the community use the search they can either choose a term that appears in the cloud of terms or enter another term that they are interested in. As the community uses the search engine, it learns the communities preferences and displays new terms in the cloud.

Swicki is so confident that can deliver a more focused search to you than Google, that on your results page they give you a link to compare the Swicki results with Google results. Check it out. What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave, thanks for this post. I read it only a bit and then rushed off to the Swicki website to make my own swicki on learning and knowledge management. Only after re-reading your post I saw you already offered a swicki on practically the same issue... (There is a reason I am reading your blog: we have similar interests :)) Well, it was good practice for me anyway.

On your question about whether the swicki search engine beats Google I'd say naturally this depends on which sites were added to the swicki index. I think there's an advantage to use your own customized search engine for topics that have your main interest. Maintaining such a search engine, however, requires quite an investment of time I imagine. Did you find a quick way to import a list of URLs into the swicki index or did you do it manually? Personally I would suggest an RSS tool that puts new bookmarks from my del.icio.us straight into the index. Don't know if that exists already.

When it comes to use of a swicki by other people, the view of how good the tool is depends on how well the owner is covering websites that they consider good resources on the topic. Anyone can make a swicki, but with only three websites in it, the results will probably match those of Google.

I think in order to provide a good search tool for a community, this community should not only be able to indicate what it is looking for (hot searches) but also what it wants to find.

(My post on swicki here)