The name is a great start

Learned about Silobreaker yesterday from Yochai. It’s an interesting new search engine. Lots of stuff to dive down into. It’s very flashy (in both senses of the word) and clever. And it’s a mind candy store for those who, like myself, combine an appetite for information with easy distractability and a suckerness for visual presentations.

For example, check out Silobreaker’s Network search results for Yochai Benkler. Or choose any topic you like. If it lets you.

My main complaint about it, so far, is one I have for pretty much everything that thinks it knows what I want when it doesn’t. From Kristofer Mansson, Silobreaker CEO, on the company blog:

  …information overload will still be a problem and users will continue to ask for quicker and better ways of finding more relevant search results than what traditional search engines have been offering so far. Silobreaker was developed to meet exactly such growing user demand and the service brings meaning to news content through sense-making analytics and graphical search results.
  Ultimately, it’s the value and relevance of the search result that matter and our goal is very simple; to deliver insight as a service.

Here’s the thing. Most of the time I want to find my way to exactly what I want, and arrive at my own insights, thank you. What I need for that are tools that let me filter and drill down any way I like.

My problem from the beginning with all search engines is that they’re not tool-makers. While I want a box of tools with which I can make what I want, they’re like a construction company that constantly makes things for me, guessing at what I might want in the end.

For example, let’s say I want to find nothing but references to Yochai Benkler in blogs written in 2005. Google’s Advanced Search will let me narrow results through eight stretches of time going back to the last year. Not what I want. Google Blogsearch will let me do that, but only for blogs. (I dunno, but maybe it can only be done for blogs.)

My point is that I want search engines to act more like databases and less like AI. But we’ve been having these things doing educated guesswork for so long that we can hardly imagine anything else. In that respect Silobreaker is a welcome alternative.

What do the rest of ya’ll think about it?

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12 Responses to The name is a great start

  1. mike taht says:

    A load of hooey. They are creating another silo for themselves,
    creating yet another way to confuse people and sell ads by jumping in the middle between useful content and you.

    I yearn for the good old days, when google just gave you a graphic and the search results.

    Sign me,


  2. Karsten Wase says:

    Grumpy must be one of those guys with a cold war and librarian mndset. I love Silobreaker because it makes me learn and unlearn at the speed of thougt. This generation nad next needs quick insights in order to make good and safe business. I don´t understand what Grupmy says about ads… I do´n´t see a single ad on Silobreaker…. that is why I Silobreak news today instead of Google dinasoure them….


  3. Clooney says:

    But doesn’t their Advanced Search Options give you the options you want? Seems as if you can pick “Blogs” and any date range… Doesn’t seem to have any content from 2005 though.

  4. Janet says:

    You are dead on about search. I want what I want, not what a search engine thinks i want. As data becomes more available and we become more informed searchers, we will want databases, not just helpful suggestions that use unknown criteria to hook us up.

  5. For a look at Silobreaker and hundreds of other alternative search engine “choices,” (we just posted the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines for March) please pay a visit to


    Charles Knight, editor
    ReadWriteWeb Network

  6. Thanks for checking out Silobreaker. What might be new insight and knowledge for one user can of course be “old news” and irrelevance for someone else. We are not trying to tell you which is which or pretend that we know what you want, but rather the opposite by providing tools that allow you to see more than just the traditional lists of search hits. That way, you’re in the driving seat to explore, filter and drill down on what is (or seems) contextually relevant to you. That’s what we mean by delivering “insight” (rather than just search) as a service.

  7. Doc Searls says:

    Janet, on Google itself, advanced search won’t give you a span of time where one end isn’t the present. And on Google blogsearch all I can search is blogs, or stuff with RSS feeds. That’s not bad. In fact I think it’s great; but what I want is to be able to search for many more kinds of stuff than I can search for with any search engine I know. So far.

  8. Mike Taht says:

    Dear Karsten:

    where I am now, on a lossy, bad connection in Australia, this search for Doc Searls took about 38 seconds to load. It requested 148k of data. I’ve been places lately where that might have taken even longer….

    Compare the time spent searching google’s short page for the same thing. Even in the states I imagine this is considerably faster….

    Now, I concur that “finding interesting stuff” is a good thing, but it would be really, really, really nice to “find interesting stuff” FAST.

    >I love Silobreaker because it makes me learn and unlearn at the >speed of thought.

    I’d like to see the speed of thought drop below 1/3 of a second, in the general, worldwide case. 38 seconds is a lot of “question” – Keeeerrrrrthunk – “Answer” time.

    I’ve been distressed at seeing global think time being gradually increased from the bare minimum required to establish a tcp connection, to filling your eyeballs up with all sorts of maybe-relevant content… Google’s default search page returns 25k in results, the one above, about 6k.

    I think this silo might be a great client – if as much of it as possible lived on your own machine. Maybe.

    As for “ads”… well, what is silobreaker’s business model?

    I understand that I have different goals and priorities than any centralized search engine might have….

    Sign me,

    Still grumpy, with a cold war and librarian mindset.

  9. Sounds a little like Sprout. I got an invitation to beta. But it just presents me with it selection of news and blogs and I vote them up or down. Supposedly it learns what I like. But I don’t have time to train it. And where is the serendipity?

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