People-focused search engine launched

Spock.com, a people-focused search engine launched

Spock.com, a new search engine focused on finding people by crawling social networking sites such as MySpace.com and Friendster, launched in a beta format Wednesday.

The site is aimed at easing what company co-founder and CEO Jaideep Singh calls "the biggest application today in the digital world," searching for people either in an e-mail contact list, a search engine like Google or at a social networking site like Facebook. "A person's persona is actually fragmented across thousand of these applications," he said. "We're looking at the public Web and building a search application that helps people to find someone quickly and to have a summary quickly."

So far, Spock, which Singh claims will include every person in the world within the next nine months, has about 100 million names. A search will provide biographical information including age, city of residence and job title as well as tagged descriptions and images aimed at providing a complete picture of a person. It ranks search results based on the amount and relevance of information.

The site, which allows users to update information, could be helpful to people searching for business or personal contacts who have multiple parameters, Singh noted. For example, a user could search for a venture capitalist who enjoys golf and lives in the San Francisco Bay area or a Web developer who went to a specific university, studied a specific topic and who lives in a certain city, he said.

Singh emphasized that the site only collects information people themselves made public on the Web, and said Spock will delete any details such as phone numbers and addresses. "If you gather information which is not public, then that could be an invasion of privacy," he said. "[Spock] is no different than Google. We only index information people put out themselves. People want to be found."

In a July 18 test of six different people-focused search engines, social networking blog Mashable found that Spock -- then still in private beta -- did not conclude that Mashable author Adam Ostrow's LinkedIn and MySpace profiles were about the same person.

Also, Ostrow noted that Spock used old biographical details about him from MySpace. However, he noted, "on the plus side, Spock did pull the most relevant information from my LinkedIn profile to assign tags -- my title and industry."

In addition, a search on Thursday for "John Edwards" ranked the former senator and current presidential candidate seventh, with four of those with the same name who ranked higher being dead. The search engine did, however, get the correct "George Bush" first when the U.S. president's name was searched.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
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