January 31, 2008

Custom Search Engines - What's Cooking?

Some time ago, I put together a custom search engine - How do I? - that provides a meta-search over instructional video sites (read the background here: "How Do I..." - Instructional Video Search).

It's getting some traffic every day, which is encouraging, and I'm sort of maintaining it, in the sense of adding new sites as and when I come across them. The two most recent additions are TeacherTube and iVideoSongs (video tutorials on how to play the guitar, etc.)

Just before Christmas, I also started looking at a more elaborate custom search engine, based on finding recipes and video cookery demos. I've popped it up at How Do I Cook? (though I think I prefer the original name I gave it - "What's Cooking?")


The cookery search site is far more elaborate in terms of search refinements - I demoed ethnic food types, vegetarian cookerty, TV chefs, and so on, to try and get a feel for the info architecture:


One thing it would be nice to be able do would be to support hierarchical, or nested, search refinments - for example, a single TV chef refinement that the offers further refinements corresponding to different chefs. I could do a separate search engine for each one, I suppose, but that approach feels a bit clunky.

In a similar way, I need to think about how I can best 'integrate' the general "How Do I?" search engine and the "What's Cooking/How Do I Cook?" CSE. The correlate here is Google general search versus things like image search and Google Scholar.

As I see it, there are two major issues. Firstly, finding a design that allows you to go from one search engine to another. Secondly, embedding results from one search engine in the results listing of another - such as the way Google universal search embeds images, Youtube movies and maps in the main search results page.

In an OU context, the reason why I'm playing with these ideas is because I think each course should have it's own, embedded CSE that searches over sites relevant to the course...

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Posted by ajh59 at January 31, 2008 10:29 AM