Vivisimo’s Clusty Takes on Google

Search engine company Vivisimo have launched the beta of their new Clusty search engine, and it’s open to the public to try out.

Clusty’s main selling point is that it clusters results into separate categories, hopefully making it easier for users to sift through searches that return hundreds, or hundreds of thousands, of results. For example, a search run today for Kubrick returned 182 initial results – but Clusty split those for me into ten categories, including Film-maker, Space Odyssey and DVD. More categories were available if I wanted them, and could be applied to the entire 200,000+ results returned.

Vivisimo have gone for the current fashion of a simple, uncluttered search page, though there is something about it that says “Ask Jeeves” to me. The search box itself has a a row of tabs across the top, allowing users to search for different formats of information, including News, Images, Shopping and, a new one, Gossip.

As search engine catalogues get bigger and, inevitably, more the same, the big brand search engines need to provide a unique benefit or reason for people to stay loyal. Hence the recent introduction of new features such thumbnail views of web pages, multimedia searching and new ways of navigating the millions of results returned. Whilst Clusty acquires its search results themselves from a number of other engines, Vivisimo’s clustering technology is proprietary and is fully automated – no maintenance is required and the company claims that it can cluster any type of textual information with little or no customisation.

The clustering feature is interesting – but is it really enough to distinguish it from Google? And without patenting the concept, what’s to stop Google from developing its own clustering technology and staying out in front? Or just licensing it? However, Raul Valdes-Perez, CEO of Vivisimo is sure it’s enough to win them new fans.

“The success of today’s search technology has left users awash in information,” he said, “The net result is that users cannot or will not wade through all of the options a search engine offers up. The fast and friendly puts users back in control and ensures that they truly know the full extent of resources that are available to them in the vast online world. Clusty also helps them zero in on what they were looking for and, often, leads them to discover new things along the way.”

Try Clusty for yourself

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?