Wowd Guns for Google with Real-Time Tag Cloud, SearchStream

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-11

Wowd, one of a number of real-time search startups trying to differentiate from traditional search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing, has added a real-time tag cloud and a real-time streaming feature to the second version of its platform.

Wowd launched to public beta at the Web 2.0 Summit on Oct. 20, joining CrowdEye, Collecta and the dozen other search engines looking capitalize on the real-time search craze caused by Twitter.

But while many of its real-time competitors are simply aggregating Twitter tweets or content from a handful of sites, Wowd is focused on relevant content people signal they are interested in across the Web.

Available Feb. 11 in Wowd 2.0, the tag cloud feature is based on hot topics customized to an each Wowd user's search query, Wowd CEO Mark Drummond told eWEEK.

For example, Drummond searched Wowd for "iPad" and received a cluster of relevant search terms in a tag cloud on the right-hand rail. When he clicked on cloud terms, such as Apple, tablet and other related topics, he received blog posts, news stories and other content related to Apple's forthcoming tablet computer.

Anyone may go to Wowd and see the general Hot Topic cloud and enter a search query. Drummond argued that more value is derived by downloading Wowd's browser application, a free plug-in that when installed leverages more of Wowd's distributed search might.

Available for Windows, Linux and Mac machines, this app enables what the company calls the "Wowd cloud," anonymously nominating public Web pages for inclusion in Wowd search results when people visit them.

The more Wowd users look at certain Web pages, the greater their relevance becomes, which means those Web pages will bubble up to the top of Wowd before others. The technology handles trillions of data items and hundreds of millions of users.

Drummond said Wowd does this with a distributed search infrastructure that, rather than relying on Web crawlers trained to surface like words, decides what results to render based on the Web pages people visit.

Wowd 2.0 also boasts a new SearchStream feature at the top of the search results. Available to users who download the Wowd browser app, SearchStream continuously combs the Web for new info related to a user's search query. These results are automatically streamed to users' results pages to deliver the freshest content available.

To make SearchStream fly, Wowd's search algorithm crawls the Web every one to two minutes for any new material, ranks the content by relevance on the fly, and orders the new results for users based on their relevance, as well as their recency.

Wowd's true challenger, however, isn't from the horde of fellow real-time search providers; it's from search king Google, which surfaces in real time Twitter tweets, blog postings and news stories about relevant search queries. Wowd is essentially one of the small fish swimming in Google's real-time pond.

Drummond won't disclose exactly how many users Wowd has, but noted that Wowd counts 70,000 computers on its network since October. On one recent day, there were more than 15,000 computers active in its cloud.

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