As the Big Three—Google, Bing, and Yahoo—make subtle changes to their search algorithms, a new crop of search engine upstarts are rethinking what it means to search altogether, with the hopes of transforming your relationship to information:
1. Recorded Future – Search is about scanning through information about the past and present, right? Not if Recorded Future has anything to do about it. Compiling all recorded information about future events, this revolutionary “temporal analytics engine” helps you visualize, in text or infographics, everything that has been written about future events, like companies’ plans to expand into a new market or tech product releases. But all of this comes with a hefty fee; individual plans start at $149 per month.
2. Qwiki – The goal of this radical new search tool is to deliver information in a quintessentially human way—via storytelling. Rather than an information dump of text factoids, Qwiki combines Wikipedia, Google, and Youtube to create short, multimedia presentations of the information you search for.
3. Wolfram Alpha – With the stated goal of “making the world’s knowledge computable,” this powerful tool created by innovative billionaire-genius Stephen Wolfram does not search the web for information but rather does dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods. Wolfram Alpha hopes to be the definitive site for all factual queries, no matter the discipline.
4. Wowd – Turning your Facebook page into its own searchable ecosystem, Wowd systematizes the information from your Facebook feed into a tag cloud and lets you search your friends’ updates for the information that really matters to you.
5. Blekko – Essentially a more dynamic Google, Blekko introduces Twitter’s idea community-created metadata markers to the search experience. By refining their search with slashtags (similar to hashtags), users can more quickly zero in directly to the information that they want.