Startup Spotlight: Human search engine launches

Start-up reckons we would rather talk to a human

Questico.co.uk launches the first human search engine Monday, in which the capabilities of an Internet search engine is abandoned in preference for an expert on the end of the phone. The firm promises consumers the ability to obtain personalised answers to their questions from experts in a one-to-one telephone conversation. Visitors to the site must initially find an expert, appropriate to their enquiry. Experts can be searched for by keyword, or by browsing through the category list -- a profile of experience is offered on each of the experts, along with their fee per minute, availability and rating. Once the visitor is ready to make their call, they click on the "call" button, and "within seconds" are called back by their chosen expert. Call charges are deducted from the customer's debit card once the call is finished. "The Internet has become a victim of its own success, with lots of search engines struggling under the weight of its content," says Richard Barker, managing director of Questico. Barker's attitude highlights the limitations of search engines such as Askjeeves, where simple questions often result in random answers. "We're putting people and their intellectual capacity back into the network," argues Barker. Repersonalising the Internet is becoming an increasing trend in the US although some experts are concerned that dot-coms are taking the most crucial aspect of their service offline. Internet users who have one telephone line will have to close their online connection before receiving a call from a Questico expert. The service: Questico.co.uk
What it does: a telephone search engine
Who it's for: frustrated search engine users!
The verdict: it depends how "expert" the advice is as to whether it's worth paying for! See techTrader for more technology investment news, plus quotes and research. To have your say online click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum. Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

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