There sure have been a lot of new search engines crawling out of the intertubes lately. Intrepid technophile that I am, I decided to put them to the test with the most impartial test I could devise: a search for the terms “medieval awesome”.
First up is Wolfram Alpha, which claims to be “one of the most ambitious single intellectual projects ever attempted,” as well as the “first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowlege immediately computable by anyone.” I don’t know what any of that means,* so me and Wolfram Alpha are even, because when presented with the query, they spit back “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.“
Medieval + awesome = ? gave the same result. Clearly, by my impartial and unbiased metric, Wolfram Alpha sucks.
Next up was Cuil. You remember, Cuil, right? Pronounced “cool,” possibly named after the Old Irish word for knowlege (or, more likely, hazlenuts or salmon). It was totally going to revolutionize the way we searched for information back in July of last year, but then it didn’t. And here’s why. When told to find medieval awesome, it returns a link to the “ancient and medieval” section of the Awesome Library, a collection of lesson plans for the K-12 set.
Whoever snapped up the domain name awesomelibrary.org has clearly done the universe a disservice, since lesson plans are actually pretty high up there on the “list of most unawesome things ever.”** Cuil doesn’t realize that, and thus, it also sucks.
Microsoft’s new search engine “Bing” turns out to have nothing to do with Bing Crosby. It might have overtaken Yahoo! as the #2 search engine overall–and it almost certainly overtook Ask! as the #1 search engine used by people whose default search has been hijacked by a sureptitiously installed toolbar for all their “restore Google to default search” searching needs.***
But when told to find medieval awesome, Bing returns a listing for an “Awesome Medieval Madness” pinball machine from rec.games.pinball:
So, on the one hand, Bing did manage to find a result that uses the word “awesome” right before the word “medieval”, but on the other hand, the result is from the Usenet. In Bing-land, it’s the early 90’s! Quick, call the Microsoft marketing guys, I’ve got an idea for a new ad: “Bing! Because you always wondered what happened to Lisa Loeb after ‘Stay’.” (That’s a freebie, by the way, ’cause I’ve got a million of them.****) Final verdict: unless you’re a character on the first season of Friends, Bing sucks.
That’s right. Got Medieval: #1 Hit for Medieval Awesome. I think you’ll agree, if you’re the sort of person who googles medieval awesome, you’d rather be here than reading classified ads for pinball machines or planning lessons for 9th grade World History. So I don’t think Google’s got all that much to worry about, really.
*Though the pedant in me is obligated to point out the superfluous comma between “ambitious” and “long-term.” Is grammar computable?
**Even my lesson plans are all “blah, blah, boring stuff, vamp for time, more boring stuff, pop quiz, etc.” and I’m an awesome lesson planner.
****Bing! Find out who else ate your balls. Bing! Optimized for Netscape Navigator 1.22. Bing! It works over SLiRP.