Are you also becoming annoyed with Google? Their web search service still provides incredibly good results, but it is now so bloated with relentless advertisements and add-ons that I find myself getting increasingly irritated with it. So I was pleasantly surprized and pleased to discover a new search engine recently called Duck Duck Go. Odd name, but it looks and behaves like the Google of old (before overwhelming success led to Google's current "we're going to take over the world whether you like it or not" philosophy).
Look at the screen-shot on the right, or visit Duck Duck Go at DuckDuckGo.com. Simple, right? Just type and search. But the proof is in the pudding, so what kind of results does it give when you do a search? Well pretty good, actually - I searched for myself (always a worthwhile thing to do, if only to find out what your digital footprint is) and I was gratified to discover that amongst the several other Paul Kilfoils in the world I was number one on the results list. A few other searches yielded similarly positive results, so from now on I think I'll be "Duck Duck Going" rather than "Googling".
Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that Google's services are bad. Far from it. Google have revolutionised many things in the connected world, from email to document sharing to satellite maps to books to language translations and many more. But from being a smart and techno-savvy upstart they have morphed into a corporate conglomorate with many question marks against their name. For example, did you know that if you do a Google search in the same browser while logged on to any of Google services (eg. GMail), they track what you're searching for and log this against your online identity? You only have to search on the internet (yes, ironic that) for something like "Google tracks web search" to find any number of articles describing how much information Google records about what you do ; Don't Track Us is just one example. I don't want to give the frothing-mouth paranoid brigade too much credence, but that makes me just a little uncomfortable. Duck Duck Go have declared as one of their founding principles that they will not track or record any information about people using their service.
Not convinced? Here is a direct quote from a recent blog on TechRepublic.com (dd 15 April 2012):
Over the last few years there has been a fair amount of backlash against Google for a variety of things, most notably its use of personal data with advertising. At this stage in the search game, Google's lead in results quality has largely evaporated. Independent tests show that Google's search quality is not significantly better than its competitors. Google Search's position as the big favourite has also made it a favoured target for scammers and spammers looking to peddle their adult entertainment and malware. You can easily switch to any of Google's competitors without sacrificing quality, losing Google's behaviour tracking along the way.
Some of Google's services have also proven to be far from effective. Google Buzz was an unmitigated disaster, and the scarcely-improved Google+ has made next to no impact on FaceBook's huge share of the social media market. So when it comes to Google I think it should be a case of using what's good (and there is a lot that is), but keep an open mind about other services that may appear and switch to them if it suits you. In this online age there's no longer any need to be brand-loyal (if indeed there ever was).
[Update] I came across another search engine recently that also does not track or keep any information about its users - Start Page, which can be found at StartPage.com.