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The Internet

A Search Engine For The Slower Net 309

Makarand writes "According to this BBC News article researchers at MIT are developing a search engine for people using the web on slower net connections. The software will e-mail queries to a central server and receive the most relevant webpages from the search results by e-mail in a compressed form. Since the program is too big to download over a poor net connection it will be mailed on CDs to libraries for people to borrow and install. They are also considering trying to persuade computer sellers in developing countries to install the program on machines."
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A Search Engine For The Slower Net

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  • Because... (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by indros13 ( 531405 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:33PM (#6455265) Homepage Journal
    ...Google is so slow?

    Honestly, folks, someone please explain how this could substantially save someone time surfing the web?

  • by Santos L. Halper ( 591801 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:34PM (#6455269)
    I mean really. I use dial up occasionally, and I can get my search results in 20 seconds instead of 2. What point does it serve emailing your search query off and waiting much longer for the results?
  • What program? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drdale ( 677421 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:35PM (#6455286)
    Could anyone else figure out why this requires a program on the user's end that is too large to be downloaded? Seems like all you need is an e-mail client, and instructions on how to format the information request.
  • Cached searches (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T5 ( 308759 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:37PM (#6455295)
    Might be a nice way to preserve searches for later perusal. Unlike bookmarking, the returned search results are stored in an email.

    This would be a good way to preserve stuff that may be the subject of removal due to court order, like and other similar de-Googlings.
  • Re:A better idea (Score:1, Interesting)

    by nsideops ( 579890 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:39PM (#6455314)
    It's modded funny, but there is a good idea deep in there. I've basically been thinking about this idea for years. Not quite like a card catalog system as he described, but more like an ever changing directory. Of course it would require quite a bit of man hours to oranize/update/arrange, not to mention linking to the many many different categories and sections one page could belong to. Every day I run into something that I need to search for, but don't really know what exactlly to search for or where to go. I get lots of similar links but it usualy takes about an hour to narow them down to something usefull. I admit, this is part of the greatness of the internet, bucause quite often in this hour search I find valuable information that I need that I wasn't even looking for or stuble upon something that I didn't even know was out there. All of the sites that attempt to do this now are very limited and usually laid out quite poorly. It would be a massive project, but I think it would be quite usefull.
  • Re:Because... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by rocket97 ( 565016 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:39PM (#6455318)
    I agree 100%, I just moved to a new place where I am forced to use dial-up because I am in an area that does not have access to DSL, cable, or anything else that is still decently priced... anyway when I run a search on google it takes at most 5 seconds to get the listing back of the results. If this program needs to send an email to the user letting them know the search results this will take at least 2 maybe 3 times longer (in the fastest instance) for the user to get the results. I think that MIT needs to re-think their ideas and come up with something more useful rather than coming up with something that will just cause more headaches to the users forced to use the slow connections like myself.
  • by SlimFastForYou ( 578183 ) <konsoleman AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:40PM (#6455326) Journal
    for my cable Internet connection at home.

    Yes, I am dead serious... Lets just say Charter's cable Internet in my area lately really stinks. I would almost rather be on a 14.4k modem - no joke. I am not the only user... I get lag spikes of over 3000ms when not doing anything, and almost dropped connections. Good thing DSL recently became available in my area =D. One less Charter Pipeline subscriber.
  • Google Voice Search (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:51PM (#6455453) Homepage Journal
    Check out the Google Voice Search [] page. This has been up for quite a while now, and though not directly applicable as is, to people with a slow internet connection, it's just another alternative to emails. They should design it to respond by phone though. But again, people with dialup connections would, more often than not, not have a second phone line to request searches by phone.

    To try out this demo, please follow these simple steps:

    1. Pick up the phone and call the automated voice search system at (650) 318-0165.
    2. After the prompt Say your Search Keywords, say your query to the system.
    3. Click this link and a new window will open with your voice search results.
    4. Say another query, and the new window with the search results will be updated with the new results.

  • Good idea but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @04:18PM (#6455668) Homepage
    It's a shame that with the way the net is going all they will get as search results will be flash heavy sites that take 20 minutes to download on broadband, let along dial up.

    Where did all the sites go that you could use wget -r to grab overnight? How about the odd few that used to offer a .tar.gz for download and offline reading.

    Content over presentation is a concept that needs to be reintroduced to the net, preferably with a stick.
  • Where's the money? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PapaZit ( 33585 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:15PM (#6456180)
    As admirable as the idea behind this project is, I don't think it'll succeed. In a word: money. The programming and research aren't the problem -- someone's getting a thesis out of this, so MIT'll foot the bill. The problem comes with finding money for maintaining and improving the servers, handling abuse, support, etc.

    It's a service that's only useful for poor third-world schools. Those organizations are probably running on a donated 486. They sure don't have money to pay, or even the money to pay to download ads. Charity-wise, "fund a search engine for poor third-worlders" is somewhat less compelling than "feed a starving child".

    I see this idea living on research and enthusiasm for a year or two then dying a quiet, broke death.
  • Yes it would (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BillThies ( 690098 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:30PM (#6457936)
    Hi, I'm a Ph.D. student working on the TEK Project. TEK does send the content of pages, not just links (although it also allows you to retrieve individual links, if desired). This allows you to get information back in a single query. TEK stores all returned results in a local cache on the client machine, so that users can search through the pages and refer to them at a later date. The software provides a local search utility that allows you to peruse previous results with a standard web browser; you do not need to keep the emails that are returned from the TEK Server. We hope that this is useful not just for taking a snapshot of a given page, but also for averting future searches if some content has already been downloaded before. More details are available on the TEK website:

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