Worio: Personalized Search, but Potential Privacy Issues

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AltSearchEngines has an interesting post up on a new kid on the search engine block: Worio, which is currently in beta testing. It uses a mix of recommendations and learn-as-you-search features to filter search results for what you’re likely to mean when you search, and deliver related content.

I found it to do a pretty good job delivering compelling content that I wasn’t directly searching for, although some users may have privacy concerns about the way it works.

Worio divides your search results up into normal search results, and “discovery feeds.” The discovery feeds show up in the right pane when you search, and contains recommendations that the search engine thinks you will like. They are related to your search, but they’re not restricted to your keywords.

For example, a search on Warren Buffett returned normal links on the left pane, and articles on both Buffett and investing on the right. A search on Chrome delivered Google Chrome at the top of my normal search results, but sectioned off areas of the discovery feeds collected browser-related content and content related to metallic Chrome.

If you do repeated searches on various technology topics in Worio, you’ll start to notice that it feeds tech-related content to the top of both normal results and discovery feeds–an example of the “learning” that it does. It keeps a running track record of what you search for, and allows you to accumulate a library of search results, and share any results you want to with others.

In this area, though, I began to wonder about privacy protection. Worio does anticipate this concern. It allows you to turn a personalization button on or off, but without the personalization on, I think I would prefer Google (and, yes, Google generates its own share of privacy concerns). With the personalization on, Worio does indeed steer you toward content that Google won’t, and it’s a useful search engine from that perspective. I can see using it when researching blog posts and other pieces of writing, but I intend to try it a bit more, keeping an eye on the privacy issues, before I decide it’s a keeper.

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