Distributed Websearch

When it comes to searching the web, the first thing that comes to mind is Google. Or Bing. Or Yahoo. Sure, it’s easy, fast, and sort of reliable. However, there are a few problems with these kinds of services.

First of all, there’s the filter bubble. These search engines (and social networks) will present results that are specifically tailored for you. On the one hand, this is a good thing, because you’ll probably find what you’re looking for faster. However, you’ll never find information that COULD be relevant, but is filtered out for you. Your world view is being limited by this filter bubble.

You can work around this by using “anonymous” search engines, such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage. These search engines don’t store your personal data, and therefore can not create a filter bubble for you. As for Startpage, that search engine will act as a proxy between you and Google. You will usually get high quality results to your search query.

Another problem is “The Right To Be Forgotten”. The European court ruled that Google needs to provide the option to delete certain search results from its index. When you’ve had problems, which have been resolved, you shouldn’t be judged on the basis of those past problems. However, once information is on the Internet, it’s very hard to remove. The toothpaste is out of the tube, the genie out of the bottle. You’ll never get it back in. Google provides links to this information, it does not provide the information itself. Removing the links is not the same as removing the information. We have seen the same misunderstanding in the case of The Pirate Bay.

YaCy

Since a couple of years, there is YaCy. YaCy is a distributed search engine, that ensures TRUE anonimity, and is impossible to take down. You need to install a piece of software on your computer, browse to the local webserver (probably http://localhost:8090/), and start searching. At this moment, there are 1.7 billion documents in the public network. In contrast, the web is estimated to contain 15 to 55 billion documents.

There are a couple of other interesting features in YaCy, such as creating a search engine for one specific topic, or a search engine for your local intranet. Give it a try.

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