One of the best things about writing a blog, is that one posting can stimulate a conversation in a way that not even the writer expects.  Take Toby’s post from Tuesday, Good Technology Is Magic.  Toby’s discussion of e-discovery and semantic searches got a comment from one of the readers who actually works on a product that does semantic pointed us to his product called Cluuz.  Well, any one that has read my postings knows that I’m a search fanatic (I am a librarian, you know…), so I thought I’d take a look at Cluuz and see what I could do with it.

Cluuz is Clean
The first thing you see when you visit Cluuz, is that it has a clean user interface.  Much like the simplicity of Google’s search page.  Right away, I like this approach.  I try a few simple searches at first (basically Googled, er, `Cluuzed` myself and added in the phrase “competitive intelligence.”)  What I got back was pretty interesting.
First of all, I see from the URL that it seems that Cluuz is using Yahoo search to do the initial search, and then Cluuz itself is using its front-end to display the results.  Here’s a link to the results if you want to follow along: “Greg Lambert” “Competitive Intelligence”
The results page also looks very clean (I know I’m sounding like a character from the Beatles’ Hard Days Night with all the “it’s a clean page” talk, but I think that describes it best.)  I get a brief overview of the following:
  1. Number of results (First 10 of 41 results)
  2. Top Clues – A snapshot of what key terms seem to be mentioned the most in the results.  I personally think they should be a little more geeky and rename these “Top Cluuz”.
  3. Top Linked Entities – The to 10 most linked words in the results page.  This is a pretty good result since it names my workplace, my associations, and my blog.  You can click on any of these and add this to the search terms.
  4. A Semantic Graph – This is the bread and butter of Cluuz.  The graph is definitely brain stimulating, and is a nice way of laying out the information found in the results page in a way that can display a tremendous amount of information without getting too overwhelming for the user.
  5. Results List – This seems to be the basic Yahoo results list, along with a few things that Cluuz has added on: There is a “Cluuz It” link that opens the page with a Cluuz frame at the top.  Not really sure what value this adds, in fact some of my results wouldn’t show up because it would give me a Yahoo Search Page Error.  So, at first look, this doesn’t seem to do what I think they are trying to get it to do. On some of the results, there are Key Terms from the results page that you can click on to add these terms to the search string.  This is actually a good idea, plus it allows the user to see some of the key terms without having to open the page itself. Next, there is a Cluuz Ranking using 5 connected puzzle pieces.  This is interesting, but I’ll need to dig a little deeper into Cluuz to see what they use to rank the results.A synopsis of the page is listed.  I think this is pretty much straight from Yahoo. Finally, there are pictures from the results page.  I like this as well, because it gives the user information from that page without having to actually open the page.
More on the Semantic Graph

As mentioned earlier, the Semantic Graph is the crown jewel of Cluuz.  I think a lot of users will like the visual representation of the results, and will be able to interpret the information quickly.  The graph opens very quickly, and doesn’t use Flash or Java to display, so it easily displays in IE, Firefox and Chrome.  One of the things I would like to see is the ability to shrink the graph by levels so that it doesn’t become to unwieldy.  But, overall, it produces a great visual.
What’s the Potential?
Cluuz is in beta right now, so I know that Michael and the others over at Cluuz (and the parent Sprylogics) would love to hear comments about what they should do with this product.  Here are a few from me:
  • Make the graph collapsible
  • Perhaps give the user the ability to use Google results rather than Yahoo
  • Better explain what the “Cluuz It” option is supposed to do for us, and make sure that it works with the results
  • Offer this as a product I can use inside my network.  I think Toby mentioned this in his comments.  Perhaps this could be a pretty good e-discovery tool, or at a minimum, a good desktop or network enterprise search solution
  • Keep it clean!  
Overall, it is a pretty good looking product with a lot of potential.  I look forward to seeing it roll from Beta to production!  Good luck!