A search engine called “Blekko” launched to the general public yesterday. Who needs another search engine you ask? Well, Blekko is a little different than Yahoo, Google or Bing.
Blekko is designed for “vertical search.” Verticals, as far as search engines go, are topics of interest to the searcher. Blekko’s verticals are defined by things called “slashtags.” Unlike Twitter slashtags, which are used to attribute tweets to the proper source, Blekko slashtags refer to groupings of websites, associated by topic. So, for instance if you are interested in skiing, you could do a search like “vacation rentals /ski.” Your search for “vacation rentals” would be performed only in those web sites the Blekko people have associated with the “/ski” slashtag.
As a registered user, you can also create your own slashtags, associate them with the websites you choose, and make them public. You can do something similar, with Google, but Blekko is designed around this concept.
Sound like something useful? Not so fast. Try searching Blekko and you will quickly find out that the results are completely atrocious. Why? The most obvious drawback to me is that having the Blekko people select sites they think best define a topic I am interested in is an impossible task.
Can they improve the implementation of their concept? They’d better if they are going to succeed! I’ve had access to Blekko since it was in beta, and I haven’t found it useful yet. Maybe I’m not part of the target audience, but I sure do a lot of searches. Given Google and a well crafted key phrase, you can easily drill down into that vertical and come up with rich results, without having someone filtering the results with topic categorization. And the very idea that you would limit yourself by creating your own slashtags to group your favorite websites seems absurd. The serendipity of searching the Internet is finding something new on a website you’ve never seen before.