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Cuil Unable to Find Posterior With Map, Both Hands


New search engine unlikely to replace Google.

"Define irony: A search engine can't find any results for the word 'failure.' "
-- Steve Buscemi, Con Air

I may be misquoting Con Air, the Jerry Bruckheimer classic that featured more scarily bug-eyed actors -- including Buscemi, Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich -- than any other film in history. But the words still apply to Cuil, the search firm that's suffered countless debacles and indignities in its attempt to take down the cultural and technological mainstay that is Google (GOOG).

A week later, Googling "the future doesn't look bright" will most likely point you back to the Cuil homepage.

At this point, the obvious question is "Why even try to break into the search engine business?" Google, having years ago revolutionized the way webpages are indexed and retrieved, is already synonymous with web search. (You don't ever hear anyone say they Yahooed (YHOO) anything, do you?) And given the existence MSN (MSFT), (IACI) and countless others, the market is pretty much saturated. You're better off taking on the automobile industry.

The only way to gain ground as the new search engine seems to be taking a cue from Google and finding a way to completely revamp how sites are retrieved, organized, and displayed. Or succumb to overhype, fall back on outdated conventions and utterly fail.

In Cuil's case, they decided to try the latter.

On launch day, their servers were overrun with curious users, causing endless down time. And unlike fanboys still looking for a Nintendo Wii, no one really clamored for more when demand wasn't met; instead, they abandoned the site altogether.

But how were the search results? No one would dare launch a search engine without first making sure it works, right?

Well, apparently, Cuil's distinctive method of having a dazed intern flip through a card catalog for every search didn't work out as well as they'd hoped. Rumor is, he gave up after the fifteenth request for "Jessica Alba nude." Also questionable was their decision to throw darts at a wall of photos to choose which picture accompanied a given result.

Schadenfreude was in full effect on online message boards, as users raced to post the most ridiculous results received from very basic keywords.

And, for Christ's sake, did they learn nothing from Prince's attempt to get us to refer to him by an unpronounceable (if attractive) symbol? By the time CEO Tom Costello explained that the company name is pronounced "cool" and is Gaelic for knowledge, we'd already decided to never visit the site again.

But, hey! The site's background is black! Wow - it's so much cooler than Google.
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