The hot tech news story today – starting last night, actually – is the new search engine Cuil. If you click around the usual run of Web 2.0 news sites, you’ll find the Cuil story on all of them – big new search engine, backed by lots of money, ex-Google founders, new ideas. But if you check out what’s being said about Cuil on Twitter you’ll find a different story: inaccurate, out-of-date, inappropriate photos, “not impressed.”
I predict that by this afternoon we’ll be seeing a lot of stories about the Cuil launch being a failure. But there’s a lesson here for any web worker involved in launching a new site or service: feeding out a good story line through your PR people is not enough. Before you launch, you need to be sure you actually live up to the story you’re telling. If not, you’re in trouble: these days, it is way too easy for the masses to speak up – and you may not like what you hear.