If you follow this blog you know that I rarely write about metasearch engines. It’s not that I dislike them, there’s just too many of them out there, it would be hard to keep track of them all, and few capture my attention. Plus, even though metasearch engines are federated search applications in their own right — they aggregate search results in real time from a number of sources (which may consist of live or crawled and indexed content) — I mentally place them in a category of their own.
Last December I wrote about Rollyo, a personal search engine that you can customize with a list of URLs to search. While one could argue that Rollyo is not a federated search application (it’s got to be searching crawled and indexed content rather than live sources if it searches arbitrary web-sites) I found it to be innovative enough to warrant a post. Addict-o-matic (hat tip to Web Worker Daily) is another metasearch engine that intrigued me.
It turns out that the founder of Addict-o-matic, Dave Pell, also founded Rollyo. Clearly the man is on a roll (pun intended.)
So, what is Addict-o-matic, and why is it interesting? Addict-o-matic is a metasearch engine that has a very nice user interface for arranging search results and it comes with a canned set of “newsy” and other sources, whose contents it captures via RSS. I like that Addict-o-matic is very simple and very useful at the same time. Search results are not aggregated but displayed in individual panes by source. I really like how easy it is to rearrange the result panes, placing the ones that present me with the most relevant results at the top of the page. And, as you change the result page layout, you can simply bookmark the search page which links to your custom layout. I think all federated search vendors should follow Addict-o-matic’s example and make it easy to customize different elements of their application’s layout. And, I was delighted to experience how absolutely trivial it was to add Addict-o-matic to my Firefox searchbar.
What I enjoyed most about Addict-o-matic was the interesting set of search results I found from places I’m not used to looking. While I have a good number of Google alerts, and find out about all sorts of interesting federated search news via those alerts, there’s something nice about being able to do one search and see sets of results from different sources. (One drawback with Google Alerts is that I get too many emails from Google.) Plus, with Addict-o-matic I can test out new search terms that I’m thinking of creating a Google alert for and see where interesting results are coming from. As someone who is trying to keep up with the federated search industry I appreciate discovering new sources and, while Addict-o-matic doesn’t have a very large set of sources, it has a very useful set for matters pertaining to this blog.
A search for the phrase, “federated search,” yielded results from Bloglines which caught my eye, from Microsoft’s Live.com News, and from other sources I don’t frequent. Maybe these results are all in my Google Alert emails; if so then I’ve missed them and am happy to find them at Addict-o-matic. Searches for “deep web” and for “Deep Web Technologies” (this blog’s sponsor), also yielded results worth reading.
While I’ve always been a fan of aggregating results into a single results page and ranking them in terms of relevance to the user’s search terms, I am now also a fan of segregated results. It would be nice if Addict-o-matic provided both options, rank by source and rank by relevance. And, while I’m wishing, I’d like to see Addict-o-matic serve up their results via an RSS feed. On my second wish, the Addict-o-matic FAQ page says they’re “working on a bunch of ways to make your results dashboard a little more portable.” I’m looking forward to that. Oh, and I’d like to see more sources.