The Mechanized Madness of Cuil’s Cpedia

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Last week, once-widely-hyped search engine Cuil1 unveiled their newest product, Cpedia. Cpedia is the world’s first “automated encyclopedia”. If you’re thinking “Well of course it’s the first, because that’s a terrible idea”, prepare to feel smugly correct.

To start, have a look at the Cpedia’s entry for this very site2. As you can see, it’s almost complete gibberish, with just a few flakes of reality sprinkled in for flavor. These are the rantings of a crazed computer and the ‘report’ is entirely unusable for anything, save humor.

The problem isn’t specific to just that one page. Look up any subject, from Tofurky3 to a hamburger4, and you’ll be confronted by abrupt topic shifts, accidentally embedded ads, and all manner of just downright craziness.

Cpedia’s info page states:

A natural way for people to receive information is a report — a summary of the topic. Current search results are more analogous to receiving a bibliography than a sourced report.

For each query, Cpedia algorithmically summarizes and clusters the ideas on the web and uses this to generate a report. We do the heavy lifting of removing all the repetition, so that unique and novel content surfaces.

More accurately, Cpedia blends up myriad pieces of possibly relevant information from around the web, until the original source writing is barely recognizable in the resulting mush, and the copyrights are perhaps not being violated.

Then, and this is important, they stick titles in between some of the paragraphs.

This launch is dubbed an ‘alpha’ release, but it’s also an entirely, laughably, public release. The site is open to anyone who finds it, and everywhere they go, they’ll find sentence after sentence of automated nonsense.

Cuil claims Cpedia provides something “new and different”. In the end, however, the web already has attention-deficit disorder.


Footnotes:

  1. It’s pronounced ‘cool’. I know. It’s best to just accept it and try to move on with your life. ↩︎

  2. On the incredible off-chance that Cpedia eventually works reasonably well, here’s a picture of the entry at the time of this writing. ↩︎

  3. ‘Tofurky’ archive from April 12, 2010. ↩︎

  4. “A hamburger” archive from April 12, 2010. ↩︎


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