The SearchMe Visual Service

A recent Tweet from Tony Hirst alerted me to the Searchme Visual Search service. An example of use of this service searching for “UKWebFocus is illustrated below.

The Service

As the name suggests this service provides a visually-oriented approach to searching and, rather than attempting to describe this service I suggest you try it.

I suspect that an initial response from some information professionals would be to highlight the limitations of such an interface, pointing out the difficulties of more advanced searching. However I feel that this would be to overlook the potential of this type of interface to provide browsing functionality. And this, indeed, was the use case made by Tony Hirst:

@briankelly would like a wayback machine browser for home pages over time. would look neat? Any libraries for it?

I met Tony at the recent CRIG DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) Metadata Barcamp held at the University of Bath. Over lunch I mentioned UKOLN’s JISC-PoWR (Preservation of Web Resources) project and described my interest in ways of exploiting content held in the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine. I suggested that a generic screen-scraping interface to the service would be useful – and when I returned to the Barcamp later that afternoon Tony demonstrated the first version of the software :-) And the following day Tony had started to explore ways of providing a richer user interface to such data. A browse interface such as that used by Search Me Visual could potentially provide a very engaging way of visualising the changes to an organisation’s home page, I would think. And wouldn’t it be great if this could be demonstrated at the JISC-PoWR’s opening workshop on 25 June 2008. Has anyone come across any tools which could do this?


  1. Information professionals with Macs won’t be too taken aback: it’s basically just the CoverFlow visualiser from Itunes and Leopard 😉

    And it’s catching on. When I was at OR08, we saw an interesting demo of Pageflow for Eprints.

    Not sure how completely effective it is for your average research repository (or as a general file system browser in MacOS), but for flicking through images, covers of CDs, books, magazines, etc., it does the trick. Interesting to see it working well for identifying websites too.

    So, yes, I agree it would be a major boost and benefit if Wayback, UKWAC, etc. could offer this somehow, both for browsing search results and categories, and for selecting snapshots along a website’s timeline. Not unlike your video about Bath Uni’s website.

  2. I used ‘search me’ long time ago on request as a tester. I also sent several recommendations to there developers team. am glad to hear that people have finally started talking about it :)

  3. I do not have a website. I am just a regular home user in USA. Searchme and nexplore have somehow mated into my computer and now they will not go away. I dont know what I clicked on to make this happen, but I have now tried every paid version of adware and antivirus that I can think of (currently using Kaspersky) and it will NOT stop popping up constantly. There are a few other websites that randomly popup, but my antivirus says my system is clean. I also have popup blocker turned on and nothing is helping. Please, if you know what to do, TELL ME! Thank you so much for your time in viewing my email. Amy K



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