KnowItAll: New list compiling search engine

New Scientist reports on a search engine being developed at the University of Washington, called KnowItAll.

Using search engines to compile a list - like the top 50 greatest blues guitarists by record sales, say - involves a lot of drudge work because you have to visit many web pages to gather the data you need. But the next step in search engine technology could make creating such lists possible with a single mouse click.

KnowItAll, a search engine under development at the University of Washington, Seattle, trawls the web for data and then collates it in the form of a list. The approach is unique, says its developer, Oren Etzioni, because it generates information that probably does not exist on any single web page.

The US Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA, and Google, are so impressed that they are providing funding for the project.