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Monday, 30 March 2009

Recommended Website of the Month


Posted by Andy

There have been plenty of search engines over the last few years that have tried but failed to take Google's search engine crown. The simple one term box approach works and as competitors have found out, there's no tangible way of improving on that - it does what it says on the tin, and searches, usually finding what you want with little ease. So some search engines have decided to do what Google do and dissect it, not just using tabs for images and videos, but combining or concentrating on all of these elements.

One of these websites that have got it right is Middlespot. As well as that, Middlespot have done something very...well very Apple Mac/Web2.0 and made a fluid search engine which may not be as hot at searching, but presents the results in a nice scrollable way. It gives you the ability to store pages on one screen and gives you the opportunity to zoom in and out of each saved page - have a play around with it and you'll see what I mean. Anyway, rather than try and explain it myself, here's what Middlespot say.

It's hard to argue with results. A study by Microsoft Research reveals that presenting a screenshot in conjunction with a text result allows a user to locate desired webpages faster and easier in almost every attempt. Our brain is designed to filter, distinguish, associate, and select information first and foremost visually. middlespot.com is designed to take advantage of this strength by providing a patented interface that helps you determine the relevancy of your results with greater efficiency and accuracy.

We believe searching is an iterative activity of evaluation and interpretation that doesn't end with the presentation of a linear list of text only results. It's why we're building the tools to make the activity of search more effective.

You can...

See your results as screenshots that you can pan and zoom like a map

Save and annotate relevant individual results to collections in workpads

Share workpads with others who are looking to you for your expertise

No need to sign up, login, or download a plugin, just start searching.

Screenshots make searching more effective

The benefits of the middlespot.com screenshot gallery become obvious when you begin interpreting your search.
  • An abstract query becomes easier to evaluate, letting you use the visual cues of the result screenshot to narrow your search.

  • Filter out sites that are recognizable as spam, duplicates and cloaked sites, or sites where it is clearly evident from the screenshot that it has no meaningful content, or worse yet, isn't even accessible.

  • Quickly recall the visual presentation of a site you have previously visited.

  • What you see is what you get, no interpreting a result solely from some cryptic text description, then clicking on that result only to discover the page is completely irrelevant.
The middlespot.com screenshot gallery allows you to compare and constrast multiple screenshot results simultaneously, so you can quickly see duplicate results. Or zoom into a specific screenshot and see details that just can't be described by text results alone. We've built the middlespot.com interface to provide you with the tools to really manage your search.

to learn more about using the inteface, please try our tutorial.

Collect results relevant to you

middlespot.com workpads allow you to gather together results that you find relevant to your research. You can collect search results together that are from multiple searches, over any amount of time. We've even built a number of tools that allow you to add to your workpads even when not using the middlespot interface.

Workpads are feature rich. You can rename them to better reflect what they contain, leave a comment describing the contents of the workpad, open the entire workpad in the middlespot.com interface, and add any url you want. Your collected result is stored as a screenshot that you can uniquely annotate with your own comments. The number of workpads you can create is infinite.

To make accessing your workpads easier over multiple sessions, we've placed your workpad tabs on the start page of middlespot.com and at the bottom of the middlespot.com interface.

To learn more about using the inteface, please try our tutorial.

Share your research

Different than a lot of social bookmarking sites is the fact that we don't make your collections public. What you put in your workpad is just for you. It's up to you to share them with who you want. And we've made sharing quick and easy, both for you and the person you are sharing with.

You can email or even just copy the unique URL of your workpad and send that to a friend or colleague. Shared workpads are read only and whenever you update your shared workpad, your friend automatically see's your changes but can't make changes. Shared workpads become a part of their series of workpad tabs (just a different color) making it easy to access your workpad on their computer (just tell them to go to middlespot.com).

If you do want to share your workpads publicly on a blog or website, we've made it possible to do that as well. It's completely flexible so you can decide how big both the embed frame is and the size of the screenshots. Any comments you made about each screenshot are presented as mouse over tips.

Best of all, you know when people have looked at your workpad. A view counter keeps track of how many times your shared community have opened your workpad.

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