Kosmix Eschews the Needle, Delivers the Haystack

Like many web workers, I spend a lot of time searching online, and I try to expand my set of tools for doing that well beyond Google. One of my latest finds in this area is Kosmix, a search engine that’s still in Alpha but does what it does very well.

As described in this post, Kosmix is based on the following notion: “Search engines are great finding the needle in a haystack. And that’s perfect when you are looking for a needle. Often though, the main objective is not so much to find a specific needle as to explore the entire haystack.”

Kosmix does standard searches, but it delivers your results by assembling complex “topic pages” on the fly so that you can investigate your search topic from many angles. Kosmix is partnered with many services, so some of the results come from partners, and others are gathered from applying your search string to video libraries and other sources.

How useful this is depends on what you are searching for. Let’s take the example of a technology product: the Asus Eee PC netbook. My results when searching for “Asus Eee PC” included videos of the systems from Truveo, YouTube, Blinkx and elsewhere, Google and Wikipedia results, listings and prices from Shopping.com, and many more types of results.

The topic pages are rich enough that it’s worth looking into some of the less obvious links among the results. For example, my Asus Eee PC search gave me a “blogs” link atop the page, and when I clicked on it I got lots of blog posts on the Eee PC, including a timely one from GigaOm. The original search also gave me a Reviews link atop the page.

Having tried a number of types of searches, Kosmix looks good for comparison-oriented searching, such as shopping for new tech products, comparing thumbnails of videos and images from various outlets that may be of interest, and looking from an aerial view at reviews from disparate authors. If you’re stuck in the Google rut, give it a try.

Disclosure: Kosmix founders Venky Harinarayan & Anand Rajaraman are angel investors in Giga Omni Media, the parent company of this blog.

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