Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Seruku: Search what you've seen

ResourceShelf discusses a new toolbar application called Seruku. "Seruku is toolbar-based application that ... makes a copy (called a snapshot) of every html web page you've viewed in your browser, stores it locally, indexes the content and then, when needed, allows you to keyword search the full text of this material."

My first thought was that this is silly, basically reimplementing the browser history and cache with a search layered on top. But then I realized that this really could be useful. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to do a Google search that was limited to web pages you have seen before?

It may just be a matter of time before Google puts this functionality in their toolbar, since this is an easy extention to their upcoming search of your hard drive.

Update: John Battelle briefly compares Seruku to Furl.

Update: Microsoft Research's "Stuff I've Seen" project is a generalized version of Seruku.


wegrosso said...


Thanks for noticing Seruku, and for posting your thoughts. Since you wrote this article, I've been taking a little bit of a closer look at Stuff I've Seen. And they do something that's actually quite different from Seruku in at least two important regards.

The first is that SIS relies on Internet Explorer's cache. They're indexing pages that you've seen, that's true. But they're not maintaining their own copy. This means that if IE clears old files (which it does occasionally) or the user clears them out herself, the pages are lost. At Seruku, we thought about using IE's cache, but decided against it because we didn't think that approach works well for historical information.

The second thing is SIS is an entirely separate application. The whole point of Seruku Toolbar is to be as unconscious as possible. If you're using a web browser and reading web pages, it's kind of jarring to launch another application, bring its window to the foreground, do a search there, etcetera. This might seem like a minor usability quibble, but it's very real (and one of the reasons Seruku is a toolbar and not a separate search application). Usability just takes a huge hit when the user has to go and use a separate application.

Greg Linden said...

Great points. You're right that the browser cache is incomplete and unreliable. Reimplementing and extending it does make sense. The toolbar implementation is also clever and convenient.

Another important distinction is that I should have made is that Seruku is a released product. It's out there for people to use.

I may have overstated "Stuff I've Seen" when I said it's a generalized version of Seruku. That seems to be the intent of the project, but who knows what it will look like when it's finished (or if it ever will be).