A Google Challenger?

An Italian mathematician is launching his own search engine to challenge Google.

Massimo Marchiori claims to have developed a radical new view of what a search engine can be. He
has posted a cryptic video describing his vision at Volunia.com. You can also sign up as a beta tester
for his new search engine.

The twist in this story is that Massimo contributed to Google’s original search algorithm. So you could
say he has a little “inside” knowledge on how to improve it.

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have always acknowledged the value of Massimo’s
contribution to the Google formula. So it will be interesting to see whether Google tries to acquire or
squash the new search engine.

The video Massimo has published doesn’t give a lot of detail about what his new search engine does.

That makes sense since he doesn’t want competitors to figure it out and beat him to the punch line.
But there are some interesting suggestions.

One scene indicates the search engine provides a much more accurate result. It’s described as a new
way to fish, and the way it’s presented is kind of funny.

When I watched the video, it occurred to me that this in one of the reasons that print yellow pages have
had a resurgence over the last couple of years. (Yes, the big, clunky book you use as a door stop is
being used more often by consumers.) Search engine results got so off target that people turned back
to the yellow pages because they know they can find what they’re looking for.

Google saw this happening to and did a lot to improve their local search results. For geeky types like
me, this makes it even more interesting to see what Massimo has come up with that he thinks is
radically different.

Another scene in the video seems to indicate that there’s a social component built into his search
engine. And this is where I started to lose interest.

The scene shows one person “connecting” with another person on the other side of the world. Well,
this is a big part of what’s wrong with social media right now. So I’m not sure we need more of the
same.

Silas, my dog, is a black lab and I think he’s great. This does not translate into me wanting to connect
with black lab owners at all, let alone in another country. Although I’d make an exception for a friend or
relative living in another country. And then we’d be connecting because of the relationship rather than
our pets.

So I’m interested to see what Massimo has in mind, but the last thing I need is another Facebook.

A big question is how this new search engine is going to make money. All the other search engines do
it by selling advertising space. If the new kid on the block gives much more accurate results, that could
mean a greater ability to match ads to search terms. Targeted advertising is always more successful,
so it would definitely be appealing to business owners.

The plan is to launch the new search engine this year, and to launch it in 12 languages. So they’re
pretty serious about developing a good product.

Click over to volunia.com and watch the video for yourself. Then answer me this: No matter how good it
is, do we need another search engine or social media site?

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