Ever felt that searching is far too impersonal for you? Well, a new search engine called Ms Dewey has recently launched that offers a whole new interactive experience. Instead of seeing a whole screen of search results black on white, search results only take up half a page on Ms Dewey. The rest of the site’s real estate is taken up by Ms Dewey herself – an avatar that talks to you as you search and even hassles you if you have periods of inactivity.
The visual look of Ms Dewey (built in Flash) is pretty impressive, with an ultra-modern cityscape as a backdrop. The most striking feature is Ms Dewey herself – she is embodied by the beautiful actress and musician Janina Gavankar.
However, in terms of functionality, Ms Dewey is a letdown: The video loops are quite choppy at times and get repetitive quickly, and most importantly, the search results take quite a while to load and are pretty difficult to scroll through.
Search is powered by Microsoft Live Search, and while Microsoft’s involvement in this site isn’t promoted anywhere on www.msdewey.com, this is what Microsoft had to say to David M. Ewalt, a forbes.com blogger who blogged about the site: “Who says search can’t be fun? At Windows Live we are constantly exploring new and creative ways to promote our search offering and deliver relevant information in an interesting and engaging way. The Ms. Dewey website is just one example of these efforts. This is not an advertising campaign. This really just an experiment for exploring different ways to introduce people to search and Live Search specifically. We are not promoting the site but simply putting it out on the Web for discovery.”
I had assumed that any attempt to give search a more human face had died when ask.com sent Jeeves into retirement. I’m not convinced that Ms Dewey will fare much better. Granted, she does have more sex appeal than Jeeves, but will that really matter more than fast, convenient and relevant search results?
What I do like about Ms Dewey though, is that to me, she appears to give us a little taste of where media convergence may be heading. Doesn’t the search interface remind you of a television news studio with an anchorwoman behind her desk? That’s quite a departure as far as search interfaces are concerned. She also shows that information search doesn’t necessarily have to be dry, but can be quite entertaining. If you are curious, check her out at www.msdewey.com and let us know what you think!