Search Engine Alternative Maps Results

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-12-12
 
 
 
Groxis Inc. on Monday will unveil an alternative way to search the Web and visualize the relationship of the query results.

Called Grokker 2, the desktop software adds new twists to traditional Web search-engine results. Rather than returning a simple list of results, Grokker groups them into various categories that are displayed in a visual map of icons, allowing users to drill down to find specific sites or content.

In the first version of the software, launched in October 2002, Grokker used metadata from the data sources themselves to categorize results, said R.J. Pittman, chief executive officer of Sausalito, Calif.-based Groxis. The initial version connected to Ask Jeeves Inc.s Teoma search engine and Amazon.com Inc.s product database.

In Version 2, Grokker has its own intelligence engine that analyzes content in order to categorize it on the fly, Pittman said. It also pull search results from significantly more sources of information. Users can retrieve data from six search engines at once; the new version adds Yahoo Search, MSN Search, AltaVista, FAST and WiseNut to the mix.

While a regular search engine works well for searching for specific information, Pittman said, Grokker works better for conducting research on more general topics and subjects.

"As the collections have become bigger and bigger and the search results more massive, theres become too much information for people to wade through," he said.

One notable search engine not among the six in Version 2 is Google Inc. But Groxis has its sights on the search-engine leader and plans to launch in another week a separate plug-in for tapping into Googles search engine, Pittman said.

Groxis approach to searching the Web and databases through a desktop application comes as both Microsoft Corp. and Google increasingly are eyeing desktop search. Microsoft plans to focus in search in its next Windows release, code-named Longhorn, while Google last month launched the Google Deskbar, a search box within the Windows toolbar.

"Google is trying to bring its search index to the desktop, and were bringing the whole Web to the desktop," Pittman said.

Groxis also isnt stopping with search engines and Amazon.com. It plans to start releasing at least one plug-in a week to allow users to tie into more niche-oriented search engines and databases, such as LexisNexis or the Library of Congress, Pittman said. For those sites and databases that require a subscription, Grokker would store log in information to facilitate access.

"There are 550 billion Web pages out there and most sit in their own islands," Pittman said.

For developers, Groxis plans to launch in a week or so a beta version of a software development kit (SDK) that exposes Grokkers APIs for the building of custom connections into other data sources. A full version of the SDK should be released by the end of January, Pittman said.

Grokker 2 is available as a download for $49. The updated version runs on Windows, and a Mac OS X version is slated to be released within another month, Pittman said. While its a separate application, Grokker embeds Internet Explorer into its interface so users can view sites once reaching them through Grokkers visual map.

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