Why Google Will Never Die

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.

So what does Google do with medieval awesome? Voila:

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.

***In this case, the toolbar goes by the name “Microsoft Windows 7 Release Candidate”.
****Bing! Find out who else ate your balls. Bing! Optimized for Netscape Navigator 1.22. Bing! It works over SLiRP.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ncm

    Medieval Madness is awesome too!

    I think you misspelled voilá. In that context it's spelled either "viola" or "fwa-lah". Just here to help.

  • Vellum

    Thank you for this: it's the best roundup of google's competitors I've seen, and also one of the funniest things I've read in a while 🙂


  • Got Medieval
  • Peter

    You're a little unfair to Wolfram Alpha in that it's not supposed to be a google-type search engine. It's more about calculable knowlege. For instance, I just typed in "convert 42 degrees to centigrade"; it responded that it's interpretation was "convert 42 degrees fahrenheit to degrees celsius", and gave the answer as 5.556. It also gave the conversion to kelvin and a few other things. Now, this isn't the sort of tool one's going to use nearly as often as google, but it's not a bad first pass at a tool to interpret a vague (I didn't give the units I was converting from) command and attempt to calculate what I asking for. Also, it knows that the meaning of life is "42".

  • ncm

    Alls I knows is what I reads on the Usenet. However, teh Google prefers "wah-lah" (856,000) over "fwah-lah" (3360) and "fwa-lah" (3150). Probably "Ay wah-lah" is best if you're reaching out for the American heartland. Or even "Ay wah-làh", although that might be dangerous.

  • Isaac

    I wonder if a search for "medieval satisfactory" would trigger the same first hit?

    Sure enough.

  • Jon

    Are you sure?

    Got Medieval is the #1 result when I did a search for "medieval awesome" with Bing…


  • Matthew Gabriele

    I will say, in Bing's defense, that it is catching on. I can tell this because an increasing number of the "medieval porn" searches that arrive at my blog now come from Bing.

  • William Starbreaker

    What, no Blackle? It's the baddest search engine of them all.

  • Derek

    But I thought Bing wasn't just a search engine – it's the world's first decision engine! So did it decide to buy that pinball machine for you or not?

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