Taking a leap into search

Posted by Mark Everett Hall

Like hundreds of millions of others, I use Google as my primary search tool. Like everyone else I do so because it's fast, efficient, and good. But my current preference does not mean Google will always be my favorite choice. After all, I once was a loyal fan of Alta Vista.

So when a PR person brought the Leapfish search portal to my attention, I started using it. It lets me integrate my Twitter and Facebook accounts and claims to offer something called Real Time search.

It was the latter capability that intrigued me. After all, sometimes when news is breaking it takes a while for search engines to begin indexing reports so they can be found via Google or Bing. To be able to get links to online stories and posts as events are happening, that seemed like a breakthrough to me.

This morning I gave a Leapfish a small challenge. Beat Google to the punch on locating a "breaking" story, in this case, a YouTube video showing Susan Boyle singing on NBC's morning Today Show. Simple enough.

First, I watched Boyle sing "Wild Horses." (Nice rendition. Much different than Mick and the boys.) I immediately leapt to my keyboard and typed "susan b..." and before I finished typing into Leapfish, her name came up as the top choice. I added "today show" and hit the "Search" button.

Disappointment. No links to the live Today Show still playing on the television. There were two links to news about Boyle's appearance on the program, but no instant YouTube video.

I switched to Google, typed in "susan boyle today show" and my number one link was to a YouTube video of her singing "Wild Horses" at Rockefeller Plaza.

I returned to Leapfish, retyped in my request but hit the "Real Time" button for the search and was given the same link to the video. In other words, Leapfish can deliver the same results as Google, but I have to hit the Real Time button.

I'm sorry. That's dumb. Why not give users Real Time all the time? Why dumb-down the search? If the service's advantage is real time search, don't make it necessary for the user to take a special step to get your advantage. Otherwise, we may just as well stay with what we already know so well.