Kosmix crawls the Web and analyses pages based on specific topic criteria. Until recently, they did searches only in the health field. Via algorithms, they analyze the actual content of pages and break down search results based on a set of subcategories. In health, for example, some of the subcategories include: Treatments, Causes, Alternative Medicine, and Fitness. When you do a search, you can click on any of the subcategories to zero in on the subgroup you want. The site even prioritizes the list based on your search. For example, if you search on "prostate cancer," the subcategory "Men's Health" appears at the top of the subcategory list. Type in "ovarian cancer" and "Women's Health" comes up at the top.
Unlike Google, Kosmix doesn't rank pages based on popularity but based on relevance, according to their criteria. That could be dangerous. Google has been very successful by basing its results on the collective knowledge of the Web. The more people that link back to a page, the more valuable that page probably is. So we'll have to see how well Kosmix does at using its own analysis to rank results.
At DEMO, Kosmix introduced two new topic areas: Travel and Politics. The first is probably of greater value to most people. For example, if I'm planning a trip, I can get search results broken down by categories like Museums, User Reviews, Travel Logs, and others.
But Politics is the one that intrigues me most. The current Kosmix subcategories are Conservative, Liberal, and Libertarian. And while the Kosmix interface doesn't show it, their backend categorizes not just what political leaning a Web page has, but how far it leans in that orientation. For example, is it mainstream conservative or rabid conservative? Moderately liberal or hysterically liberal? That's what I'd love to see in a later version of the product!
And even without that level of detail, the engine could be handy to quickly figure out what the agenda of a site is. For example, is a Web site about global warming really about the science of global warming? Or is it run by a bunch of rampant polluters, with a Web site that tries to appear "environmental" and uses subtle, cloaked arguments to convince readers that global warming is a myth?