Thursday, September 16, 2010

Religiously filtering search

Habiba Nosheen on NPR did an interesting story yesterday on a new trend in internet search. The internet is a wide open medium. There are few, if any, limits on what can be published to the web. That is a blessing because we can find information on almost any subject by typing a few key words in a search engine. It is a curse because often we will get information we never intended - and may not have wanted. Sometimes we get information that's downright repulsive or directly counter to our beliefs. Now there are search engines that cater to groups, specifically religious groups, by filtering out content that does not conform to the religious belief system. There are sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians

This is an interesting development, and perhaps an obvious evolution from filtered content. Filtered search is similar to filtered content, but more flexible. When you subscribe to a filtered content provider you can search using any search engine, but may not be able to access all of the results that come up. With filtered search you will be able to access any link in the results, and if you either don't get the result you were expecting or think you're missing something you can go to a traditional search engine and access any result that pops up.

The article names three faith-centric search engines:

seekfind is a Christian search engine that appears to run it's own indexes.

jewogle is a Jewish search engine powered by Google.

I'mHalal is an Islamic search engine that also appears to do it's own indexing. I like that it has general web search, news search, and Qur'an search.

Filtered search engines using religious guidelines is a pretty neat idea. They allow people to get online who might not be able to take advantage of the World Wide Web without the protection filtering provides, but don't limit greater access if it is needed.

I wonder how well the Christian search engine conforms to the idea of being in the world but not of it? But I wonder the same thing about Christian bookstores, movies, and other "Christian" things that isolate us from the world we're supposed to be "salt and light" to.