Once a while, there comes a simple utility that becomes so indispensable that one probably asks “Why didn’t I think of it >?”. It happens that while as usual piling through daily review of Web 2.0 startup and happenings by Techcrunch, I came across a very interesting post Search Startup Surf Canyon Raises a Seed Round that caught my attention. I have to admit what pique my interest initially is not what is, after all there are abundant of daily news about startup, existing or new, that look likes the “Next Big Thing” but prove otherwise, but rather what’s in the world will any sane investors will want to throw US$850,000 dollars to fund such a ‘dubious’ simple idea especially it works primarily as a plug-in to browser ? Notwithstanding that name of Surf Canyon sounds anything but a serious startup.
Is Surf Canyon the Next Big Thing ?
However if there is one important thing to learn in life is not to judge a startup simply by its look and name because look and image can be awfully deceiving. Many a time, the opportunity of discovering the “Next Big Thing” is lost because many tend to harbour the perception that the Next Big Thing has to be radically different, transforming and fantastic without realizing that radical innovation incurs very high risk that only few investors are willing to stake.Often than not, the Next Big Thing is just a simple idea that provides a immediate value to anyone who uses it and that intelligently condenses a number of tedious steps into just few effective steps. No need for Big Innovation and Extravagant Marketing, just raw useful value propositions for the mass market.
|Well, the Next ‘Big’ Thing doesn’t need to be like King Kong, big and bulky. Rather, it should be more like , Su WuKong, aka Monkey King. It signifies small, agile and flexibility with unlimited potential.|
So if that is anything to go by, Surf Canyon fits the definition perfectly with its ease of use and simplicity. So what is exactly is Surf Canyon ? The name provides the obvious hint. From Wiki, the definition of Canyon is “A canyon (rarely cañon) or gorge is a deep valley between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river.”. Fitting it into Internet analogy, it means that the web contains overwhelming information hidden deep into abyss of valley, and therefore poses a challenges to anyone trying to retrieve valuable and helpful information. And the most important technology that expose myriad information to the user is the search engine. Just enter a few keywords and criteria and the search engine return a list of useful results almost instantly. However, despite the advance in search engine, the user is still feel inundated by information that he has to peruse page by page. Hence the mission of Surf Canyon is to leverage on the search engine user interface to provide a effective and less intrusive way of browsing through the search result without painfully navigating through pages of search result. Just imagine each search link can be further collapsed into series of related link recursively and unlimited based on result of underlying search engine, and that is exactly the fundamental idea behind Surf Canyon.
How Surf Canyon works
Surf Canyon works as a plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer, and works in tandem with Google, Yahoo, MSN search engine’s result to deliver its impressive result integration. To confirm its usefulness, I test it with Google running with Firefox.
Surf Canyon offers rudimentary customizations over search engine support and display. User can control the number of result shown when a result link is collapsed.
So a result from Google search shows that a Bull’s eyes icon appear at each result link, and as user click on the correspondent Bull’s eyes, it further collapses into more links as controlled by the above option. From the following screen, one can easily see how relevant and interesting are those links return from Surf Canyon. Beside the icon, there also indicates the page number that tell which page a link can be found in the resultant search of Surf Canyon. Indeed this is how Surf Canyon works and that is all to it. Most of the complex calculation and processing need are done behind the scene to deliver meaningful result recommendation so that user does not need to further adjust the result.
Surf Canyon seems to be referencing result from search engine in such a way that related link can be perused through collapsible result link interface alleviating page by page navigation because people realistically tend to judge a search result by the initial page result rather than subsequent pages. Indeed, unlike conventional search engine where each result page shows different results, Surf Canyon effectively utilize AJAX technology to show all the page request result within the current page with subsequent page result just append to the end of page, without having user to flinch page by page anymore, just scroll through result using Page up and Page down key easily or with Mouse Wheel. That is a usability innovation itself.
|With click of More Results link,
||end up the result of next page append to current page.
Surf Canyon’s demonstration video,
Future of Surf Canyon ?
Yap, that is all to it about Surf Canyon. Ridiculously simple to use and easy to review as well . Simple concept with huge potential to be the Next Big Thing. Its success will be evident in future design of search interface. Is there any flaw in its implementation ? I hardly can find one since it doesn’t come with many features in the first place.
Overall, Surf Canyon deserves to be a indispensable toolkit to any serious web surfer who looking for high quality search merge with better user experience. In fact, it is so simple to use that perhaps the hardest thing is the installation of the plug-in (consider that plug-in installation itself is just as easy in Firefox). So why’s not just download it and experience for yourself the future of intelligent search engine here at Surf Canyon Installation ?
Surf Canyon is a simple yet useful free utility service that brings the new meaning of usability and usefulness into popular search engines without traumatically changing the way user uses them. It provides a strong compelling debut and very likely to inspire similar design and feature to prominent search engine that it currently supports, Google, MSN, Yahoo. It simply complements and bring a more productive way of working with search engine and as such it deserves to be used by every web surfer. In the future the search engine vendor is highly likely to incorporate similar features to gain competitive advantage.