Why DuckDuckGo is my new search engine

This is not old news. Google has been concerned about Facebook’s rise and has been wanting to come up with a social product of its own. So they create Google+ and we all joined enthusiastically. They have impressive growth in numbers and I also supported G+   until I remembered what happened more than 15 years ago.

So Microsoft did not get internet back in the 1990s while Netscape was dominating the browser market. Then Microsoft decides to use its dominance in the desktop space to thrust IE on its users. Not many liked this move but here we are in the future knowing that Microsoft killed Netscape.

I realized that our support for G+ is similar to supporting IE when Microsoft is trying to kill Netscape through unfair means instead of building a good product. As soon as Netscape was dead, Microsoft IE also stopped its innovation until Firefox came along. Do we want the same thing by supporting G+?

I also realized that many like me were interested in supporting a competitor to Facebook thanks to Facebook’s heavy handed dealing with our privacy on the site. So it was Facebook that was making us support its competition.

Now Google comes up with “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW) which apparently is great for us. I have been worried with all the junk that shows up in our search results on Google. Now Google wants to pollute the search with G+ results? No thanks.

Google learns from Facebook and decides that it knows what is best for us. I liked how Sarah Lacy talked about it here. So Google is now emulating Facebook too?

From now on, it is going to be DuckDuckGo.com as the search engine for me. I hope they continue with their privacy first philosophy.

Dear Google, Please Don’t Shut Down Aardvark

You might seen this post from Google announcing their intention to close out a few of their experimental products. One of the products that will be closed is Aardvark. Aardvark is a social question and answer tool where you can ask a question and it will find someone to answer your question for you.


You might wonder why Aardvark is so important considering that there are so many Q&A sites like Quora, Yahoo answers etc. The reason is this – Aardvark is the only one that could find someone who knew the answer to the question (however esoteric) that you throw at it. It also pings the people to answer your questions so it has a dynamic and personal nature to the answers. If you have further questions based on the answer, Aardvark will get those answered too (by the person who originally answered your question).


Since people like me got so much value from Aardvark, we always chose to answer random questions that Aardvark brought for us. Even if I did not know the answer to a certain question, I would research it so that it could help the person who asked that question. I wanted to make sure that I had a positive karma balance with Aardvark (more questions answered than asked). I am sure there were many others like me since the quality of answers that I got was so high.


In our move to France, Aardvark was a very critical tool for our integration into the country. It was like having a close friend who knew all the answers to your questions about living in France except that this friend was available 24X7.


Here are some of the ways in which it has helped us:


1. Once we had to send a very urgent letter on a weekend and everyone told us that we have to wait until Monday. I asked Aardvark, and voila! I came to know that a La Poste was available near the Louvre in Paris. We were able to mail our letter on a Sunday!


2. We consume a lot of Tofu since we are vegetarian. When we came to France, we could not find fresh tofu in the grocery stores. We did find the dry variety which isn’t as good. Many people told us that we should go all the way to Bio stores in Paris to get fresh tofu. I turned to Aardvark, and found that there were three stores within 5 kms of where we live that carried fresh Tofu!


3. We wanted to find an alternative to the local French banks that charge a bomb just to give you a current account. I got referred to Fortuneo, ING Direct etc thanks to my anonymous friends on Aardvark.


4. We are learning French using Rosetta Stone. Since there are no explanations in Rosetta, I always turned to Aardvark with my questions about French. At any time of the day or night, I got answers from my trusty Aardvark that helped speed up our learning.


With Google sunsetting Aardvark, I feel like I am losing a close friend. I think Aardvark addressed a gap in the market and the gap still exists. So please dear Google, please do not shut down Aardvark. Heck, give it to me and I will keep it going!