Thursday, February 16, 2012

DuckDuckGo is now my default search engine. Seriously!

DuckDuckGo - a better search engine?
It sounds funny to admit this, but I’m excited about a new search engine.

It’s called DuckDuckGo, and it recently had its first day handling over a million searches.

I think that’s pretty awesome. Most people would say that there isn’t any room left for innovation in search, with Google long ago having achieved dominance in the marketplace (The last nascent search engine that garnered media attention, Cuil, was an abject failure).

But DuckDuckGo has two key advantages -- from a user perspective -- over Google. The whole premise of the upstart is that it won’t track or bubble you.

In other words, DuckDuckGo takes privacy seriously, and they don’t attempt to personalize your search based on history or other identifiers -- the whole concept of Eli Pariser’s Filter Bubble Problem.

It’s a clean, simple, impartial search (kind of a hybrid based on search APIs from major sites like Yahoo, Wolfram|Alpha, and Bing) that has been filtered for SEO spam and is private -- it won’t send your searches or computer profile to third parties as Google does. Not to mention it’s improving all the time feature-wise.

Gabriel Weinberg,
DuckDuckGo’s motive force
And yes, it’s legit -- with coverage in WIRED, Time, and other major publications.

Put together by Gabriel Weinberg, the site also features many cool and powerful techie shortcuts that let you rapidly search specific sites, or using other engines -- for example, you can type !w to search Wikipedia -- along with many other goodies.

There are some drawbacks, as numerous observers have noted. DuckDuckGo can be a bit weak on the following:
  • Searches where there’s a recency element
  • foreign language searches
  • speed
  • it has a silly name

I like the fact that results are fairly uncluttered. You may not realize it -- until you try something else -- but Google searches have become a wasteland of distraction and advertising. Google’s inescapable new privacy policy allowing them to link together and share what you do across all their sites is another factor for consideration.

Hopefully, DuckDuckGo will prod Google to improve their own approach. Fred Wilson (the noted venture capitalist and an investor in DDG) puts it like this: “Best case, DDG is to Google what Firefox was to IE.”

Bottom line, I’ve decided to live with DuckDuckGo for a while, as my default search engine. We’ll see how that goes!

Check it out -- DuckDuckGo (You can also use for less typing)!

See Also...
Eli Pariser's Filter Bubble Problem
Gabriel Weinberg discusses the premises behind DuckDuckGo
Stop Facebook from tracking you, with Disconnect
How to Opt-Out from LinkedIn Social Ads

Spread the word about DuckDuckGo -- please share this post.