Vivisimo, the well-respected and award-winning metasearcher, has launched a companion search tool called Clusty. As its name suggests, Clusty uses "clustering technology" to categorize and organize search results. Clusty's mission: to help searchers tame the wooly beast of information overload. Instead of generating interminable lists and pages of hits, Clusty delivers results in the form of folders (a feature that is reminiscent of Northern Light in its earlier and free incarnation). Execute a search on the popular Irish rock band U2, for example, and you'll see topical results on the left grouped into folders with such names as "Lyrics," "Reviews," "Music," and so on. On the right, youll see sponsored links and then, below those, the regular search results.
Clusty's interface is relatively sparse. No doubt its Web designers and usability testers abide by the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) principle. The Clusty homepage serves up a search box in addition to several tabs such as "Web+," "News," "Images," and "Shopping."
The "Help" documentation is concise as well as graphically illustrated, and Clusty offers standard search syntax. Specifically, Clusty defaults to a Boolean "and" search, and it permits Boolean negation or "not" searches, too. What's more, this metasearcher supports phrase searches by enclosing words within quotation marks. Power searchers will most likely gravitate to Clusty's "Advanced Search," which allows for the addition or removal of "Sources" (e.g., search engines and news sites). Also, Clusty can limit results by language, and users can enable or disable a content filter. Clusty even allows for restricting searches by domain and host.
Like the new Yahoo! Search, Clusty empowers the user by granting flexibility and control. Most tabs can be added or removed and users can add tabs such as "Blogs," "Ebay," and "Slashdot." Searchers can click on "Create Your Own Tabs" and designate a tab name with the option of using checkboxes to select from a list of search engines, news sources, and other Web sites.
Clusty is a promising endeavor and adding higher-quality directories and Invisible Web content to its sources would enhance it. Searchers who are tired of the Google-Yahoo! hegemony may consider Clusty a viable alternative. If nothing else, Clusty may provide a diversion or distraction from dependence on a single search tool. Given that Clusty is in beta, be sure to provide Clusty some feedback. Lastly, remember to download and test-drive the Clusty toolbar.
C. Brian Smith
Arlington Heights Memorial Library