Thursday, March 10, 2005

Boost Your Brain

I just tried out Brainboost, which bills itself as an "answer engine" rather than a search engine. The site explains,
What that means is that Brainboost actually finds answers to your questions posed in plain English as opposed to directing you to pages that simply mention the questions. Brainboost, Using the AnswerRankTM system, intelligently reads hundreds of web pages derived from search results and extracts just the short and concise answer to your question, saving you time.
Skeptical as I am about these things, I posed my usual test question, "Who is Thaddeus Lowe?" (Lowe was a 19th century American inventor and entrepreneur.) In just a few seconds, Brainboost listed a dozen answers/sites, each with the URL, link and excerpt. A "Read More" link opens an inline scrollable window of the corresponding site for a quick look at the answer in context. "Regular Search Results" (i.e., a list of links) appear at the bottom of the page

Brainboost answered other questions ("What is the melting point of iron?") with similar aplomb, although it stumbled when I asked it convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit. And it seems to do best with cut-and-dried factual information—the kind typically found in an encyclopedia or almanac. For example, when I asked "What is user experience?" Brainboost failed to provide a definition, instead offering a disappointing list of numerous text excerpts from books and sites no more useful than typical search results. (To be fair, Google also failed with a "define:user experience" query.)

Even so, with its quick responses to natural language queries, Brainboost is a pleasant step in the direction of search engines that are more UXCentric.

Via ResearchBuzz


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