Monday, January 19, 2009

Surf Canyon

I first read about Surf Canyon (, a new meta search engine, in the NY Times (Wednesday, January 14, 2009, Section D page 6) groups results based on semantic similarities determined by user preferences. To use it, you must first download it and install it as a browser extension. At the moment, it only works with Firefox and MSIE. The default source settings include Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft (MSN Live Search), Craigslist and LexisWeb.

When a search term is entered Surf Canyon returns a list of results, some of which are marked with a bull’s-eye icon, which denotes other related links which are opened by clicking the bull’s-eye. The new list may also display bull’s eyes, and so on. Surf Canyon is installed as an extension to your browser. The results from any search engine launched from you browser will then show the Surf Canyon bull's next to any search result for which SC has found related links.

Each choice you make modifies the search criteria to limit results to the preferences you’ve shown in choosing a bull’s-eye. As you successively click bull's-eye marked entries, Surf Canyon "learns" from your sequence of selections, and narrows the search result. Successive search results are indented like a subject outline. In other words, Surf Canyon is building you a “concept map,” of web based resources, a process familiar to most teachers.

The second way in which to tailor your version of Surf Canyon is by specifying the sources on which you want your searches made and to blacklist ones to avoid. This feature is likely to be of special interest to educators. You may do this a by selecting sites from a checklist at
Making sources subject specific and blocking popular social networking and gaming sites will will help keep students on topic when using the Internet in your classroom. Parents take note, too -- ah gee, Dad., you're no fun.

For more information about so-called semantic processors, check out Search Done Right.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Frank, for taking the time to review our application. We hope that you're enjoying using the software!