I had an interesting experience last night when a tweet came in about a new search engine aimed specifically at children called KidRex. Based on a Google Custom Search,
Google’s SafeSearch screens for sites that contain explicit sexual content and deletes them from your child’s search results. Google’s filter uses advanced technology to check keywords, phrases, and URLs. No filter is 100 percent accurate, but SafeSearch should eliminate most inappropriate material.
With a very simple interface the results come up quite quickly and definitely seem to filter out sites that are adult oriented. Whilst the search results appear to be very relevant and the engine gives an “Oops Try Again” result on all the usual terms students try search engines, the results page unfortunately features Google ads both on the top of the result page and also down the right side.
Acknowledging that they folks behind Rex need to pay for their service I was a little dismayed to see that a search on the term “naughty” pulled up a couple of Google Ads for “Hot Ladies” SMS contacts. Realising that this was probably not what the Rex folk would be expecting I used the Feedback link to alert them of the Google ad problem. Give them their dues again, the Rex folk were back in contact within a few hours though their response was not quite what I had in mind. Their solution was to remove the term “naughty” from the search lexicon and add it to the “Oops” list. Hmmm ah well I tried. BTW if you do a search on the term “bad” you will more than likely be able to find the link to chat to “sexy ladies” :(.
On a more slightly positive note though a report in the New York Times points to how some students are actually searching the web and it isn’t via the usual Google or Yahoo. At First, Funny Videos. Now, a Reference Tool reports on 9 year old Tyler who search space of choice is YouTube. As the NY Times reports,
Tyler’s way of experiencing the Web — primarily through video — may not be mainstream, at least not yet. But his use of YouTube as his favorite search engine underscores a shift that is much broader than the quirky habits of children.
The article goes on to report that searches on YouTube now exceed those on the formerly second search engine of choice Yahoo. Interesting indeed.
Another great search engine because of the way it works is Boolify.
A boolean search is a search that allows the searcher to use specified terms to narrow the search. For example a search on bollards OR Geelong AND NOT schools would return results containing the words “Geelong “, but not “schools”, and results containing the word “bollards”. With Boolify users assemble the search by dragging and assembling the boolean blocks onto the board. When green ‘term’ blocks are placed on the board a dialog window opens where the search word or phrase is entered. Blocks can be interlinked in any way you wish and can be removed from the board if not required by dragging into the blue erase bin. The search results appear directly below the board as the blocks are added.
Again Boolify use Google safe search technology and again looks pretty impressive though once I used my favorite test search term “naughty” unfortunately the second hit directed me to Vanessa’s Naughty Pics a flash based game where the ultimate quest is to find a way to get Vanessa to invite you back to her room. (If anyone is able to get to the end level can you please publish the cheats :)). Rats…
I guess this all goes to show again that there are no guarantees with anything on the internet and that far from building fences in the hope that they will keep our kids safe most times all they do is build a false sense of security. Now should I contact the nice folk from Boolify or will “naughty” become the next blacklist term.