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Summary:

A spin-off of the personal search service Archify, Blippex aims to use DuckDuckGo-like private searching as an incentive for users to pass webpage engagement information to the service’s developers.

A few months ago, anyone launching a new search engine would have been reasonably advised to have their head checked. Of course, that all changed with the PRISM scandal and the uncertain level of involvement by web giants such as Google and Microsoft. So far, private browser DuckDuckGo has been the most visible beneficiary of this shaken-up search landscape, but these are early days yet.

Hence the decision of the team behind Archify to launch a new crowdsourced public search engine called Blippex. It’s not a pivot – Archify, a personal search engine that archives the users’ browsing, is still going – but rather an experimental repurposing of some of Archify’s core technology. For example, Blippex’s ranking is largely based on the same DwellRank technology, used to order results by time spent on pages and the level of user interaction, that underpins Archify.

Archify and Blippex co-founders Max Kossatz and Gerald Bäck

Archify and Blippex co-founders Max Kossatz and Gerald Bäck

“It was always our plan from the beginning that we wanted to make a public search engine, and we thought now was maybe a good time,” co-founder and CEO Max Kossatz told me. “Because we have the infrastructure already for Archify, it took us two weeks to make it.”

More private, more transparent

Google’s PageRank algorithm is rather opaque (hence the company’s EU antitrust woes) but it generally leans more heavily on incoming links as an indicator of a webpage’s importance than it does on user engagement. Blippex, which relies on browser plugins in order to track how much time people spend on pages, only has around 2 million pages indexed at the moment, but according to Kossatz its results are “already quite different from Google”.

“We thought we’d try it out and see what happens,” he said. “Until now, every search engine which is new tries to get the same results as Google does – we’re trying something different to see if it gives you different websites.”

Blippex

Of course, getting people to install the browser extension is the key, and to that end Kossatz and his co-founder and CTO Gerald Bäck are shouting loudly about Blippex’s privacy aspect. All the plugin sends them is the page’s URL, the current time and the amount of time spent on the page – as with DuckDuckGo, no IP addresses or other identifying information are recorded, and neither are search terms.

The team is also pushing transparency as a big selling point. They say they intend to open up their search algorithm data, starting with the inclusion of their scoring details in a public API (the same one Blippex’s official front-end uses). The extensions are open-sourced on Github, and Blippex will also publish a dump of its database on a monthly basis.

What’s more, users get a degree of control over the weighting of the search algorithm, with a sliding scale that lets them choose how much influence DwellRank should have in the rankings, versus search term frequency.

Business model

So, what’s the business model? “We don’t have one yet,” said Kossatz.

To a certain extent, this worries me – any time there’s a new service that touches on privacy and there’s no stated business model, you have to wonder what the adoption of a money-making aspect down the line will mean. After all, even Google would probably be more privacy-focused if it hadn’t built all its services around targeted advertising.

That said, there’s not really any private data involved here, so I’m not overly concerned about this factor. Ditto the fact that (like DuckDuckGo) Blippex uses infrastructure-as-a-service from U.S. provider Amazon.

Blippex is available now as an extension for all major browsers barring Internet Explorer, and also as an Android app. Bearing in mind it’s an experiment of sorts, I’m keen to see how it pans out in terms of both the privacy aspect (see also DuckDuckGo and the Dutch outfit Ixquick, which has been around for over a decade) and the engagement-centric ranking method. Search is so dominated by Google in most countries that the scene can really use credible new players.

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  1. Mir Asraful Friday, July 12, 2013

    Fast fact: 82% of resumes are summarily rejected, even if you qualify for the job. While the reasons are many, the very first reason is this: the visuals are all wrong. No one will tell you that your resume is ugly. But if your resume is an assault on one’s vision the moment they open the file, they simply will move on to the next person. Too many instances of that, and your job search ends up being a long, frustrating endeavor.
    Before delving into the specific instances of ugliness and their corresponding 1-minute makeovers, I’ll emphasize that even the prettiest resume in the world, if founded on poor content, will still fail. The makeovers below are best applied when your content, experience, and achievements are strong, in order to visually engage the reader. All that said, let’s avoid the three ugly resume moves that are holding you back.
    1) The Structure Is Strange: This happens when jobseekers strive to make their resumes look like they’re not cookie-cutter. While seeking uniqueness in your presentation is a worthy endeavor, avoid going overboard. An overabundance of design elements – multiple bullets, multiple shades of gray, tabs to the middle of the page, and tables with no real purpose, all add up to look like a circus.

    1-Minute Makeover: Select two or three design elements, and use those either once or repeatedly. For example, use one style of bullets. Those can be in the expertise section at the top of your resume, and again in your experience section to highlight your achievements. Or, use one element of gray shading. That can be applied to your name and to every heading on the resume.
    2) The Font Is Funny: Certain font choices do not promote reader engagement. Utilizing multiple or different color fonts breaks up the reader’s rhythm – and not in a good, attention-getting way – just in an ugly way. Particularly for candidates at the six-figure level, there should be no reason to rely on visual gimmicks such as this to hold the reader’s attention.
    1-Minute Makeover: Choose one font that you find appealing, then vary it throughout your resume. For example, your name can be in all caps. The headings can be in small caps. The body can be in standard font. The company descriptions can be in italics. Additionally, restrict your choice of font color to basic black.
    3) The Readability Is Rough: Experienced professionals typically have extensive history to present – ten years or more. However, just as in real estate the mantra is, “location, location, location,” in resume writing, the mantra is, “white space, white space, white space.” A resume without white space is just plain ugly. Furthermore, it hampers readability when the content is crammed onto the page.
    1-Minute Makeover: Equalize your margins on all four sides of the page. Minimum should be ½”, standard is ¾“, and margins should be no more than 1”. In the body of your resume, skip lines and be consistent about it. For example, if you skip a line between the employer’s company name and your title, do so every time. Another visual enhancement is to use the paragraph spacing before and after feature in Microsoft Word to add space in between bulleted items.
    These 1-minute makeovers can do wonders for a resume that offers strong content but weak visuals. Keep the structure, font, and readability standard, then be creative and innovative in your content. That’s how to escape the resume ugliness and put forth a beautiful presentation that captures the right attention.
    So create your account http://goo.gl/KT9pV

  2. a good alternative is http://stopstalking.me, it does not track you and you get the same results from google bing and yahoo

  3. Leanne HoaglandSmith Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Hmm a truly people driven search engine versus Google which is revenue driven.

    Provided enough users participate, the results might be even more sustainable than Google.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    1. Scale is always the issue with stuff like this, true.

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