Browsing some web 2.0 blogs, I came across a site that boasts a new kind of web search. I quite like the idea since online search is one of the least researched topics from a user experience point of view I think. Yes, Google is doing a lot and refining and tweaking and tuning, but very few are thinking innovatively.
Galaxy It tries to put new life into online searching by giving you a visualization tool for searching by topics, and other classical means. It is still very much in alpha stage, so don't expect anything yet, but if the developers are thinking what I'm thinking, it could shape up to be something. Not a Google beater, but interesting nevertheless.
If you search for a term using organized mode, it will show you a 3x3 box, with your search term in the center and related topics around it. You can drag a topic to the center to then search for subtopics. I didn't really get the usefulness, until I noticed the zoom bar to the left. If you drag it to the top, it will zoom out, and to each side of the big box, you will see a 3x3 ox again, with the subtopics in the center, and actual web pages around it. If you then drag a subtopic into the center, it will reload and search for all subtopics of that topic, and display related pages. I think this is something you might have to see for yourself.
Galaxy It also works with photos, which is an interesting implementation. The reason is that often, you don't really know what you're searching for. If you search for a main topic, and see photos categorized by subtopic, you may find what you need quicker.
I see two problems with the service. One is purely performance and much needed development. The service is slow, pictures don't load in a great format and everything is a bit mixed up zoomed out. My second problem is contextual. If you search for "flower" pics, you presumably might want to look at pics of roses, or chrysanthemum or lilies and whatnot. Since the subtopics seem to be keyword based, the subtopics you actually have are "flower power", "flower seeds" and so on. If they can fix this, and get the engine to display meaningful categories, they may have a great engine on their hands.
This site may not be beating Google anytime soon, but it's bringing some much needed innovation to search engines. It needs a little development work, especially in the topic generation field, but I'm hoping they'll be able to show us a great product soon, so keep your eyes open!
Update: Galaxy It is no longer available.
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