Six Degrees of Similiation
By Davis Freeberg
If you are like most web users, you probably have a few favorite sites that you go to on any given day, but for most of us this only represents about a half a dozen trusted sites that allow us to send email, read news and perform basic tasks online. Web power users might use the internet more, but finding new sites that are relevant to your interests can sometimes be tough to do. Microsoft has been reportedly working on improving the relevancy of their search service, but in the meantime web users can check out a brand new search site called Similicio.us as a way to find new sites that compliment the ones you currently enjoy.
Similicio.us is a search engine that allows you to type in your favorite domain and receive suggestions of similar domains that might be of interest. The site just launched this week and was designed by Ying Xie of EasyUtil.com. Ying created this site by combining the relevancy search application EasyUtil.com with the vast resources of Del.icio.us. EasyUtil is a search application that tries to improve search results by looking at what other internet users found revelent and then ranking sites accordingly. The company is “hoping to capture small/medium sized online vendors that don’t have the technical know-how, but still want Amazon like recommendations,” according to Ying.
Similicio.us was created as a way to demonstrate the benefits of using relevancy based search over traditional methods. In an email to me this morning, Ying talked about the inspiration behind the site.
“I thought about doing something similar to del.icio.us but with
a recommendation engine built in. I later discarded the idea, realizing that
once people started using del.icio.us, they wouldn’t change to another
bookmarking system, and the recommendation engine wouldn’t be able to
recommend anything without a substantial user base. Later I realized that I
could do a general recommendation engine. It should benefit web sites that
want ‘people who bought this also bought that’ recommendation, but don’t
have the expertise to do it. Thus easyutil.com was created. Afterwards, I
figured that I needed an example to show how it worked. Therefore I put
I’ve found the results to be a bit of a mixed bag. Because Similicio.us uses Del.icio.us tags in order to find similar sites, it excludes a lot of smaller sites that may not have shown up in the mainstream blogosphere just yet. You might be able to find sites similar to thomashawk or TechCrunch, but you won’t find the best TV blog on the internet.
This method of search also has a tendancy to create some pretty funny associations. A search for thomashawk.com shows connections with Flickr, Wired & The New York Times, but it also includes a search result for the IBM homepage. Nonetheless, this technology produces a much better list of sites then if you search for similar sites on Google. Currently, if you look up thomashawk.com using Google’s similar search method, you’ll find a link to the Coca Cola homepage on the first page of results. Despite these minor issues though, I found the overall results to be pretty accurate and a fun way to further explore new sites on the internet.
Relevancy and recommendative web based tools are hot and only getting hotter. With Claria claiming a new relevancy based search engine (supposedly due out for beta last quarter) and Microsoft recently licensing the ReleRank trademark for their search technology (the two are not related according to Microsoft sources), as well as players like Technorati and IceRocket using new authority based blog search tools this area is prime for growth.
Of course as impressive as Ying’s site is, what is more impressive is that some guy could just put something like this together in his spare time while Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft spend millions to try to find the next Holy Grail for search.
Update: To read more comments check it out at Slashdot here.
Update #2 – After Evardsson.com saw similicio.us on Digg, he created a nifty bookmarklet that lets you search similicio.us directly from your firefox toolbar. Very Cool.