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SciNet promises faster, better web searches

Google has such a dominant position in the world of search that it’s sometimes hard to imagine life without it.

But if Google does one day implode, either because of a huge server meltdown, cyber terrorism or the European Union, we’ll all be glad of the plucky minnows trying to get a slice of the search pie.

One of these smaller alternatives, SciNet, uses a topic radar to help users figure out what it is they want to search for.

And while it may sound a bit like the evil computer system that tried to wipe out the human race in the Terminator series, SciNet is hoping to gain some traction.

SciNet’s developers at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology noticed that most people are reluctant to retype a query into a search engine once they’ve searched for it, even if the results aren’t what they’re looking for.

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“It’s often hard for people to put what they are looking for into words. Their search needs often do not become more focused until they begin the actual search. The SciNet search engine solves these problems.” said project coordinator Tuukka Ruotsalo.

Search has become such an integral part of how the internet works that websites are built around how Google and other popular search engines find and index content.

When Google updates its algorithm it sends ripple effects across the web, with website owners and marketers adjusting their content strategies to keep that search traffic flowing. The new Hummingbird algorithm unveiled at the end of 2013 shifted the focus away from keywords, with Google interrogating the entire search query to find closer matches.

And while the likes of SciNet might not be influencing content marketing strategies quite yet, search might not always be quite so Google-centric.

“Change comes from where you least expect it,” warned Google’s former executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. “The next Google won’t do what Google does, just as Google didn’t do what AOL did. Inventions are always dynamic and the resulting upheavals should make us confident that the future won’t be static.”

Posted by Dylan Brown