The Psychology of the Search Engine


There is yet another search engine on the block, this time in the form of an Australian-based engine called Mooter, officially launched in late 2003. The difference with the Mooter approach is the use of what the company refers to as “artificial algorithms� which essentially apply psychological principles to search engine design. The publicity of the Mooter company promises that, unlike standard Boolean search engines, Mooter personalises searches to the extent that no two searches will be the same. Or something. This revolves around the premise that the Mooter search engine understands “the psychology of how users interact with information�. Stands to reason, as the company CEO has a BA in Psychology.

While it is an interesting (and undoubtably worthwhile) goal to understand the underlying needs of the searcher, the logistics of this are harder to attain. Mooter creates graphical concept clusters based on the choices made by the searcher within the results already attained and, again, according to the company press release, the site uses underlying linguistic analysis of keyword searches to create these clusters. This has apparently involved extensive research into website ‘themes’ and, in this way, is similar to a subject access approach. It will be interesting to see how these aims of search psychology coexist with the site’s reliance on paid keyword searching revenue and initial technical glitches.


Interesting, but it does not float my searching boat. does a much better job, and it's much easier to use. I've seen a few of this type of interface come and go over the years, including a coupld that used a nice 3-d java interface. Again, none of them did anyhting that really impressed me. Clusters are not always useful, how many people need their results clustered?Are they trying to solve a problem that does not exsist? What is the goal?Great write up, LISNews covered it very well.

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