As just found at John Swords Blog as well as on 3PointD, the Electric Sheep Company just published the beta version of a new search engine.
You can check it out at search.sheeplabs.com where it’s showing off in a nice web2.0ish Look’n’Feel.
So what’s new about this search engine you might ask? Simple, it automatically indexes objects within Second Life by using a libsecondlife based bot which teleports from sim to sim and indexes all the objects it can find. By default it indexes only objects which are set to be on sale but you can go to the SheepLabs Headquarters and change that to include all your objects or none (opt-in and opt-out). Thus there also is a virtual version of robots.txt which makes it very much web spider like.
Of course there are existing search engines for objects such as SLBoutique.com (also from ESC), SLExchange.com or Second411.com. But in all of these you have to insert your objects yourself (usually by putting them into a box and updating their information on the website). So this new search is different in that it already automatically indexed more than 422,000 objects on 4612 sims (according to the Statistics page).
Data it indexes are the owner and creator of the object as well as the amount of prims and the permissions. By clicking on an avatar name in the resultlist you get a list of all his/her objects and by clicking on the objectname you get teleported to that location.
There are of course also some disadvantages from what I see:
- There is no sales function integrated as in SLB or SLX. But of course that way it’s also not that distinct from the Second Life experience as you still need to go in-world and shop there. OTOH a sales service could possibly be added later.
- Objects in vendors are not found which definitely is a disadvantage. Thus shopkeepers might need to rethink if they want to be findable in this engine.
- There is no metadata like an image or a longer description like in SLB or SLX but then again this could be added later as it’s done for those services (and that was also what I was discussing once with Hal9k Andalso, the original author of second411.com)
- There is no ranking of objects (well there is but I don’t see how this could work except for naming conventions) as there are no links from objects to each other which could compute something like a Google pagerank. But the traffic on that plot might be used in some computation (although this is easy to fake as we all know).
Now of course this is an early beta version and I am sure there will lots be added. Especially I’d expect a HUD interface in order to further keep the search in-world and then there would be no need to leave the environment. Basically like second411 and SLB (they have HUDs).
And in general this is a great idea and I am looking forward in how it might be useful in everyday life and how big the acceptance of it will be. Definitely a cool idea and implementation!