Searchles: Searching goes Web 2.0

A first look at Searchles, a new Web app that seeks to combine social networking with Web search functionalities.

As everyone knows, you only get one shot at making a first impression, and my first impression upon visiting Searchles was one of bewilderment. I received a couple e-mails from an employee at Searchles and decided to check out what the site was about. I was greeted with a search box along the top of the screen, and a feed of recent posts running down the left. A listing of groups and tags filled up the rest of the real estate.

Not sure where to begin, I typed Iraq into the search box and returned a query of 3,188 results. The top result was culled from October of last year and the top 10 posts seemed to be all over the map including videos from the Iran-Iraq war. So perhaps the site isn't geared toward current events, but each subsequent search I performed yielded an equally diverse set of posts. The group functionality seemed a bit more utilitarian, but it took some time before I stumbled onto the part of the site where Searchles really does excel.

Searchles TV lets people create video channels assembled from the numerous video-sharing sites on the net. The channels are packaged inside Searchles' own Flash player and provide a dynamic and intuitive way to add more content on the fly. While individual video sites have provided playlist functionality for some time, Searchles' ability to integrate content from multiple sources allows it to break down the walls between the various services and create a custom television channel--something that videobloggers had been clamoring for.

I began this brief write-up pointing out that you only one get one chance to make a first impression. Had I simply stumbled onto Searchles as a casual visitor, I would've likely done a search or two and given up after I realized the limitations of its database. Fortunately, I had already decided to really dig in for this write-up and soon found a really strong video-sharing application.

I don't know which component is the main attraction. But I do know that until Searchles reaches critical mass, the capabilities of a user-generated search engine will remain quite limited. Still, what better way to reach critical mass than by pushing a free product that lets anyone create their own Web television channel?

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