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Search engine focuses on real-time trending results

June 16, 2010 8:13:20 PM PDT
Imagine searching the Internet and discovering what is hot right at that second. That is just what one Silicon Valley company in doing and they are hoping users will be wowed by it.

For all of the information that's available online, there has been one constant flaw -- how can users zero in on what people are talking about right now?

"I think that people are fundamentally interested in what the crowd is paying attention to," Jeffrey Davitz said.

Davitz thinks he's found the answer. It's called Wowd.

"What I like about Wowd is that I can actually guide the trend following," Davitz said.

Palo Alto-based Wowd uses the power of the people currently on the Internet to build search results.

"The web is moving to real time cycle, meaning pages change, and people want to become aware of them," Wowd CEO Mark Drummond said.

Wowd collects data from its users and builds a list of what's trending on the Internet and see new results appear as they become available in real time.

"The question is -- if something changes, how do you become aware of it? And that's what Wowd is all about," Drummond said.

Wowd lets users see what real people are searching right now and provides an index of what they are most interested in.

"New stuff becomes available - the content changes - and people want a single place to go to become aware in real time of all this new material from across the whole web," Drummond said.

Wowd runs counter to the current search model used by Yahoo or Google. Those sites crawl the Internet, analyzing how web pages are related. It misses a tremendous amount of data, including information that may be on popular websites.

Wowd uses tracking software downloaded by users to search for information anonymously. This method of cloud computing lets Wowd use the power of thousands of computers to generate search results.

"Every few seconds we able to find new material for you that matches the thing you are looking for - so that's a new kind of search," Drummond said.

"They are trying to pick up on a trend, if you will," Barron's tech blogger Eric Savitz said.

Savitz is not so sure people will buy into the idea. He says people have a general fear of downloading anything new to their computers.

"I am not convinced that's something that people will want to do and I'm not entirely convinced either that we need another search engine," Savitz said.

Wowd says users don't have to download anything to see the benefits of using the site. But, it says results will only get better if more users do download the software.

"It's not for everyone, but we provide a bunch of things in what we call "the client," so for a certain number of people they'll want to have it, and they'll enjoy having it," Drummond said.

Wowd users say they welcome any new search tool that allows them to zero in on what people are talking about.

"Search engines aren't going away but there are lots of other things, you know tools that we all play with," Davitz said.

Wowd is truly a worldwide venture; most of the engineering has been done half a world away in Serbia.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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