blog:Other Search Engines

By tmuirtmuir (1228739553|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

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This blog is going to be dedicated entirely to Silo Breaker. The reason: Silo Breaker is a really incredible tool and everyone should know about it.

What is Silo Breaker?

Silo Breaker is not a Google replacement. It is an alternate search engine, that is true, but in my opinion it isn't there to compete with Google in the same way that a search engine like Yahoo is. Silo Breaker is to be used as a compliment to Google, when Google doesn't give you quite enough information, or the kind of information you are looking for specifically.

What does Silo Breaker give you?

A better question may be: What doesn't Silo Breaker give you? Primarily, I would probably classify Silo Breaker as a news search engine. Displayed prominently at the top of every search are the 'Top Stories' sorted by date. On the far right you are always provided with a useful (in my limited experience) YouTube video clip. Below the news stories is a list of the latest blogs so you can see what people have to say about your query. Below the video there is are graphs of how popular the topic has been over the last month or so, in terms of searches and new articles posted. At the bottom of the right hand column is a few related quotes that I have found to be really accurate and really nice. I think they will be able to add a lot to projects or presentations.

Beyond just the information that is given though, the whole presentation is just really slick. Two totally dynamic columns (split about 70/30) give the site a really nice flow whether you are on a wide screen monitor or traditional square monitor. They are also working some serious javascript black magic so that when you highlight any article / blog / sub topic in a small pop-up frame on your cursor you get the first few lines of the story and some summary tags and whatnot. Really great stuff.

The Best Part of Silo Breaker

All that stuff is great, but I didn't mention the best part of Silo Breaker - the Network feature:

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The network feature shows you, in three dimensions, the way that your topic of choice connects to other topics that surround it. By double clicking on any other node, that node will become the new center and show you all the topics connected to that new one. Then it cross references the first topic and highlights anything the two have in common. It is a really good way to wrap your head around a potentially broad topic, and the representation is smooth and easy to understand.

This network shows you a visual layout of the topics surrounding the Mumbai terrorist attacks from around Thanksgiving. This is one that I explored myself shortly after it happened that really led to some nice information. My hat is off to the guys over at Silo Breaker.

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