The other day, during my morning Flipboard-skimming over coffee, I noticed an article from Quartz about Blippex, a search engine I had heard mentioned a while ago: This is the first interesting search engine since Google. What caught my eye was this paragraph:
One of Blippex’s key selling points is that Kossatz and Baeck [its creators] are fanatical about privacy. Though Blippex constructs its search results on the basis of data gathered from its users, it does it in a way that’s anonymous and untraceable to any individual Blippex user. This obsession with privacy allows Blippex to rank pages—i.e., decide which pages to show people—with an algorithm that Google can’t match, because if Google gathered the data that Blippex does, users would find it unacceptably creepy.
Another thing I found interesting is Blippex’s algorithm, DwellRank:
Google’s base algorithm is something called PageRank, named after Google founder Larry Page. PageRank evaluates the relevance of a site according to how many other pages on the web link to it. Blippex’s algorithm, called DwellRank, decides relevance based on how long users spend on a site and how many times Blippex users have visited it. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have, independently of the Blippex team, established that the amount of time someone spends on a web page or document is, not surprisingly, a pretty good measure of how important and relevant it is (pdf).
I suggest reading the whole article (and readers’ annotations) to get a better picture of this alternative search engine. I have decided to give it a try and install its extension in Safari. I must say that its results so far haven’t impressed me, but Blippex is, by design, something that’s destined to be increasingly useful and precise the more people are using it.