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ProFusion

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 8, 1997

What the world needs now isn't another search engine -- there are already too many of them for normal people to keep track of. But a Web page that lets you enlist multiple search engines efficiently -- now that's something. ProFusion, a project of researchers at the University of Kansas (http://topaz.designlab.ukans.edu/profusion/), lets you team up search engines like horses before a stagecoach: You enter your search term, which ProFusion then dispatches to the engines of your choice (you get to pick from AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, Magellan, Open Text, WebCrawler and Yahoo); it then sorts the results, eliminating the need to pick through the duplicate listings you get from other "metasearch" pages. ProFusion also offers the option of checking for dead links -- a terrific idea that, sadly, doesn't work too well, since it takes a long time for ProFusion to weed out expired pages from its search results (usually, our browser reported a false "operation timed out" error). But the commercial competition, which can afford more computing horsepower, would be wise to adopt this feature for their own search sites. Finally, ProFusion makes it simple to track particular topics over time in a sort of fusion of VCR and clipping service; you can register to have it conduct preset searches for you at regular intervals and e-mail you when it detects new sites.

-Rob Pegoraro
rob@twp.com

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