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Using the Cuil Search Engine for Research

There’s been a lot of talk today about the latest search engine to hit the market. Cuil (, developed by former employees of Google, is willing to take on the biggest player in the search engine arena, claiming its searches return more relevant results to the users and its results are displayed in a more user-friendly manner.

So I thought I’d try it out, given the hype.

For starters, I keyed in the simple search: “medieval history.” I was curious to see if it would return more relevant results than Google, and while it did return some useful sites, I didn’t feel the results were any more relevant. One thing I noticed was that the results came back a little more slowly, due to the fact that most items have an image out beside them. Personally, I don’t care about my search results containing images. It may look nicer, yes, but I want to be able to quickly load the page and find the sites I’m looking for.

Another thing that bothered me was the two and three column layout. I found this particular layout made it more difficult to scan the sites quickly and find the relevant information I was looking for. Naturally, it’s much easier to scroll up and down and read from top to bottom than having to jump from one column to the next. It may be Cuil’s intent for users to read the first column and then go back up to the second column, but my eyes kept wandering over into the second and third columns and then jumping back to the first and this makes for slower reading and scanning.

I do think the “Explore by Category” is somewhat of a interesting feature. After searching “medieval history,” Cuil gave me the option of further filtering by various categories within medieval history: Medievalists, American Medieval Historians, Historians of Europe, British Historian, Petty Kingdoms of England, etc. Though at the moment, this hardly outweighs the many things I love about Google. Cuil doesn’t have the extra tools that Google has, such as: Google Books, Google Notebook, Google Scholar, Google Docs. I’ve used these tools as important components to my writing and medieval research: Google Books and Google Scholar for research, Google Notebook for keeping track of ideas for my writing and my Web site, and Google Docs for storing writing documents and transferring files.

Until Cuil can offer a better search experience and some extra add-on tools, Google will still be the largest player in the search engine industry.

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