Discovering Discovery

October 11th, 2007 · 25 Comments

Here’s a quick 1, 2, 3 to help you get the most out of Surf Canyon’s Discovery Engine for Search™.

Step 1: Enter you query at or, if you like, download our add-on and then go to your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo! or Bing), just like you always do, and enter your keywords.

Our example will use a search for the term “dolphins” since it is often used to illustrate one of the classic problems with information retrieval. No matter how much information is gathered about the subject, the individual, or all the individuals who have ever searched for “dolphins”, it is impossible to know a priori whether or not the searcher’s intent is related to the animal or to the football team. While search engines may suggest alternate queries or reformulations through the use of keyword suggestions or clusters, the search results produced will always be a mix of the animal and the football team.

Football and animal mixed together on results page

Step 2: Review the results and select the one that corresponds to your interests. If it’s the Miami Dolphins that you like, click #2: If your search is satisfied, great! If not, return to the search results and Surf Canyon will provide you with some “Recommendations”. You may, if you like, also get the “instant” Recommendations by simply clicking the bull’s eye next to the particular link of your choice.

Recommended search results for

Recommendations are dug out of the search results based on the Discovery Engine’s inference of our real-time intent. Put another way, Surf Canyon figures out what you want and then goes past the first page of the results and fetches it for you.

Step 3: The process is cumulative, so continue clicking on links and bull’s eyes that are of interest to you. The longer you work on the result set, the better Surf Canyon understands your intent and the more accurate are the Recommendations. The Recommendations can nest to three levels, enabling you to “drill down” on not just your high-level intent, but your sub-intents as well, such as “Miami Dolphins news.”

Second level of Recommendations for Miami Dolphins news

Click on “More Results” and you’ll get a second page of results automatically customized to your intent. In this case, they are naturally all related to the Miami Dolphins football team and are geared towards news.

Subsequent pages of results are customized in real-time

Keep going and Surf Canyon will keep working to help you find what you need.

That’s Discovery!

Lastly, don’t worry about ‘mistakes': clicking the links that are perhaps not of interest. Surf Canyon is smart enough to handle it.

Tags: Discovery · Recommendations · Tutorials

  • Charles Vogel

    I like it!!

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  • iquanyin iquanyin

    i hope this works as well as intendel. it seems promising.


    very good program!

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  • justfarley

    Surf Canyon is awesome! But how can I regulate the output? CONTROL guys. It’s the illusion of choice in our time. Keep up the good work.

  • Tom

    This is a very very useful tool. One suggestion: add a feature that will allow filtering by date as well (most recent first). Thanks for a great product.

  • Artaindoasia

    This is a very very useful tool, I like it.

    • bayyu arif


  • vanesssa

    This looks awsome

  • chamara

    This is ideal when i am in free

  • Stephen Antanitis

    OK I just hooked up this and hope to get a lot of use from it, as I am always looking for things on the net.!

  • http://internetexployer MsRita

    I too just signed up and hope to narrow down time it takes to find correct “dolphin” information when I search……….will let you know.

  • DunderTom

    I think this is a great idea and I wanted to try it out. But I’m using Opera as my browser. Do you think you will support the plugin (through UserJS maybe?) on Opera sometime in the future?

    [Editor’s reply: Thank you for the complement. We’d love to support Opera and are investigating possibilities, but we currently don’t have an implementation plan or schedule. Please stay in touch.]

  • Brian Paterson

    😉 , here’s me thinking you were an American football team as opposed to
    an adorable mamal.

  • Docktur Todd

    You have to check this stuff out.  It really is so much easier.

  • Arlene Arp

    Is there a way for me to add my home school business on to your search engine?

  • Mark Cramer

    Arlene – Our organic search results come from a number of different third-party providers, such as Google and Bing. You can contact them about getting added to their search engines and then you should appear on ours.

  • Ronoravecz

    looking for betty4lav81, Ron

  • Hal Oyan

    Mayby it works in English. The results in german if you look for more than two german words  are unreal bad. Take a new try.

  • Larry Dixon

    please put season 5 of Breaking Bad on Netflix.  It is the only season I haven’t seen and would love to see it’s a very good show, thanks a lot.


    Hope every thing GOOD

  • Rea

    i didn’t understand how it deals with mistakes. what if i’m clicking on results and later regret it because they were found not relevant, how do i know it doesn’t screws up the engine’s suggestions?

    • Mark Cramer

      Rea – Don’t worry about mistakes. We’ve developed the algorithm to be sensitive to mistakes and adapt to changes during the search session. If the suggestions you get are not good, just skip over them and the system will adjust accordingly. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

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