doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Another search option

Like most everyone, when I started using the internet, I’d go to Altavista or Excite to do my web searching. As browsers became sophisticated, they had search engines built in them and you could search right from the address bar.

Now, as we know, we can change that default search engine. I’ve bounced around from DuckDuckGo, Google, and StartPage. Other than the bank of resources that they index, they all basically presents results the same way – via a top 10 or so page and then the option to click for more results.

It can be frustrating to search at times because you’d like to think that the first result is the best, followed by the second best, third best, etc. We know now that results don’t always come that way (although a lot of students still think they do).

We know that you can get better results with better search terms, learning the tools of the search engine or to look for the Advanced section and do your searching there.

Carrot Search is different. It’s called a clustering search and is quite interesting to use. It’s not fast with immediate results like others because it does more than others.

Suppose I wanted to search for “COVID”, I’d get predictable results from a regular search engine. But, searching in Carrot returns a much more comprehensive set of results.

There is even a tab that will let you switch to a PubMed set of results pulled from medical articles.

Looking at the results, you’ll quickly notice that they’re clustered by similarity and the cluster itself is a hot link that displays results in the right panel of the screen. More details are available in the documentation.

Carrot is available on GitHub and a second web implementation can be found here.

I poked around with both and did not see any advertising or distractions but sure did get a whole bunch of clustered results. I’m not sure that this will be my default search engine but I’ve bookmarked it for those times when I want to go deeper or perhaps I don’t know the entire context of what I’m searching for and want some help.

It’s been a while since I saw something new and different in search and this most certainly was.


One response to “Another search option”

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