Desi search engines on the prowl

It is heartening to see the Indian language usage on the net picking up. It may be due this reason or the Web2.0 startups mushrooming around but there sure has been a sudden surge in the area of vernacular search engines showing around. Whether these Web2.0 offshoots hold any ground is being debated upon but I think its sunny days for people like me who wish Indic content usage on the net reached the glory of the firang bhasha.

Khoj was probably the pioneer but with Indic blogs giving Unicode a good push Google did pretty well in digging out vernacular content. Recently there has been buzz around companies like Raftaar, Guruji and now Bhramar (interesting name). When we did a Story on Webaroo for Nirantar, we certainly thought that an offline search was revolutionary but a solution whose hasn’t yet come in India; with the conventional ones, I do not see what is really different, though all claim to have a USP of their own and none claims to be taking on the big G.

Raftaar seems pretty elementary with ability to input Hindi characters, doesn’t work on Firefox though. Bhramar has the edge that it also launched a Kannada search. Both have facility for a categorized search. The results page has scope for improvement and Guruji seems to be better off here.

I think the Web2 element of User content is already creeping in with these sites relying a lot on Blog content. Engines such as Guruji are focusing on local content search as well and which may server as their revenue source. Early days, but promising enough for Indian language users. We will surely see many search clones propping up with a keypad to input Indic characters, I don’t remember but I saw one such site simply show the Google Blog search results in a frame page. Only time will tell what separates them from the ordinary.

Ban Ban

For last several days, probably more than a week I was unable to access my geocities sites, I thought that it might be momentary,Bloggers Banned even thought that my office people might have filtered them off. The inaccessibility of blogs was thought by many as a maintenance issue. But now it’s pretty much understood that the Indian government, apparently irritated by its recent intelligence failures, has decided to put glue-tapes on the lips of its citizens. Some say it’s only momentary, as some tracing is going on; others are frustrated as I am.

I hope things come back to normalcy soon, we are proud to be an emerging IT power, of being a tolerant democracy and I don’t think our “intelligent” beurocrats would think of such stupid ways to tackle terrorism. If only something good comes out of it!

Xobdo – an online English-Assamiya dictionary

More and more people are taking to writing in Indian languages on the net and online dictionaries play a vital role here. I had once mentioned Shabdnidhi, an AJAX enabled online English – Hindi dictionary. Priyankoo, who is the first Assamese blogger, recently informed me about another such project called Xobdo, an online English-Assamiya dictionary. The collaborative project was started by Bikram Baruah, a petroleum engineer based at Abu Dhabi. They already have over 2500 words in their database and you may contribute too if you know the language, Xobdo has made available an online tool to type Assamiya directly. Kudos to Bikram and his team!