“Search For Meaning” says hakia’s web site. “hakia is building the Web’s first “meaning-based” search engine, one that will bring answers and meaningful results to questions on any topic”. And then “hakia deploys fuzzy logic (approximate reasoning) methods to allow flexibility so that the Ontological Semantics solution becomes feasible in a Web search application with stringent constraints.” That would normally be enough to make me run a mile and avoid it like the plague, but this new search engine had been recommended to me by Alan Pritchard, a fellow Member and Fellow of CILIP. Alan assured me that it found material he had not seen before and was worth investigating.
My first standard test search on ‘gin vodka sales UK’ hit the jackpot. Highlighted at the top of the screen and above the list of results it said “Great Question ”, followed by some figures and a link to the UK Gin and Vodka Association (yes, it really does exist). To be honest, though, any half decent search engine should be able to crack that one. On ‘why is grass green’ it completely lost the plot, but my first mistyped ‘what is grass green’ came up with the goods. Very odd. Other test searches such as ‘Hubbert peak oil’ and ‘car ownership UK’ performed well and hakia did indeed come up with some high quality sites in the top 10-20 that were not in the top results of the other mainstream engines.
I have forced myself to use hakia alongside Google, Yahoo, Ask and Exalead for what I call real-life searches. It is a bit erratic at times but at others it comes up with some real gems. Today, I was looking for current headline inflation rates in the UK compared with the underlying inflation rate. Not only did hakia find the official figures for me but it also offered sites explaining the different indices and the background to the changes over the years.
Definitely one to try and watch for further developments.