3 Interesting New Search Engines that Go Beyond Keywords

What if your search need is opaque – or hard to boil down into keywords? (Yes, a common theme in my blog!) A bunch of new search engines have entered the marketplace deal with this issue. Here are some to try:

(1) Aardvark www.vark.com:  Through Aardvark, you ask a question and (theoretically) within minutes you receive an answer from someone – a real person – who knows something about that topic. You are also prompted to answer questions you should know about. I was surprised at how fast and accurate it was! It seems to succeed where Google Answers and Yahoo Answers faltered. Aardvark requires you to sign up, but it’s a relatively easy process. I got the IPhone app.

I think this is a great service for people who don’t conduct searches often enough to get adept at crafting keywords.

For example, I asked it “What should I get a 14 year old who is into mountain climbing?” Within an hour (not minutes), I received two responses. One wasn’t helpful for my needs. One, from Bill P. in Burlington VT, suggested the book “50 Classic Climbs,” a subscription to Climbing Magazine, Prana clothing, chalk bag, crash pad or a “bullet” pack from Black Diamond. I would not have known that. And even better, Bill P. is not trying to sell any of those things to me!

(2) Hunch www.hunch.com:  Brought to you by the founder of Flickr, Hunch uses crowd-sourcing to answer questions you have – and here’s the unique twist – based on your past choices and questions you answer about yourself (also requiring you to sign up). It then comes up with a hunch about what you’re looking for. Theoretically, this means if you generally look for information on fruit, the search engine will know you mean the fruit “apple” and not the computer “Apple.”

It has potential, but is in its infancy (read = it hasn’t worked for me yet).  When I asked it the same question I asked Aardvark, I got ZERO useful answers. Even Google is better than that!

And finally-

(3) Wolfram Alpha www.wolframalpha.com: This search engine attempts to answer your question, not deliver links to sites that answer your question. Since the founder Stephen Wolfram is a mathematician, this search engine is most useful for things scientific.

One cool feature of Wolfram’s Alpha is it will give you the caloric breakdown of any recipe if you enter in the ingredients of the recipe.

Seems like every day there are new search-engine start ups. I’ll update this review with new favorites as I find them.