Google challenging Facebook with its social network is a tall order.
But an order that towers above that one is a new search engine start-up, YaCy, which is aiming to take on Google at its primary game.
YaCy – which is pronounced “ya see”, you see – is a search engine with a very different philosophy to the giants of the internet indexing world. It’s an open source, peer to peer search engine, in actual fact.
Rather than there being a central server, YaCy spreads its searching load across a network of peers. Anyone can help extend YaCy’s search tendrils, and it’s a completely decentralised system with some major attractions.
Namely that no search data is stored, unlike Google’s extensive mining of its user base. There’s also no censorship possible on YaCy, as it’s a free and open system in which every user is equal.
The project is run by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), a non-profit-making organisation with members around Europe campaigning for the ongoing promotion of free software.
The FSFE believes in promoting truly free, open source software and condemns, for example, trial software that places a 30 day limit on its use.
The organisation collects and shares information on free software and advises on legal and licensing matters, and they also provide training and documentation.
YaCy boasts some1.4 billion documents in its index, processing around 130,000 search queries per day. The search network currently comprises of over 600 peer operators.
Several search networks have been established on the platform, including the default Freeworld network.
Joining YaCy is a matter of a simple software installation which you can grab here – it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.
YaCy isn’t the first grass roots search engine to attempt to challenge the might of the big guns.
While none of the previous pretenders have achieved much in the way of success, perhaps YaCy’s call for net freedom, and a lack of censorship and monitoring, might seem more tempting in these days of dark legislation which potentially threatens the basic principles of the internet.