Ecosia

By dbaodbao (1261537102|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

summit in Copenhagen gets underway on Monday. While search-engines and climate changes aren't the most related topics in my mind, a new announcement was also made in the search engine world to coincide with the summit. Ecosia, the self-proclaimed "world's greenest search engine" is now available for use, with an official launch date of Monday, December 7.

How does it work?

Ecosia.jpg

So you maybe be thinking Searching for things on the web isn't that harmful for the environment. After all, I can find information without need to waste paper by buying printed books, BUT there are still environmental costs to performing online searches. Google must have physical location to store its servers and for its employees to work, which emit harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

According to Ecosia's home page, each search you perform on Ecosia will save around 2 square yards of rain forest. The video below describes exactly how this works. Google and other search engines earn money from the ads that are placed on each page. Every time you click on them, Google earns a few cents. Add up all the searches that occur each day, and this starts to up to significant amounts of money. Ecosia works on the same basic premise - but donates a portion from the revenue to saving the rain forest through World Wildlife Foundation. I feel a little bit misled about finding how this works - I thought that every time I hit search, something magical would happen in a rain forest some where, but it's still a worthy cause to donate your search time to.

Search Functionality

Although Ecosia claims to operate the same way as Google, the actual search experience is a litle bit different. According to the video, Microsoft and Yahoo provide the sponsored ads that generate revenue (not sure why Google isn't included.) They recomend helping them generating revenue by either going directly to the website or by installing the search bar into your browser. The video advertises Ecosia as not being only green, but also incredibly user friendly. However, when I load Ecosia, it doesn't quite have all the customizable features shown in the video. For example, I only had a number of search options: Amazon, Google, Google Images, Google Maps, Google News, Weather, Wikipedia and Youtube. The results page itself is very simple.
ecosia%20results.jpg
It's pretty bare bones - absent of the plethora of options I'm used to seeing on Google. However, there is a "preview" option that has become pretty standard for search engines that I am excited to see - you get a little screen shot of the site you are about to visit. I'm also impressed the most of the Google search syntax also worked with Ecosia. Also, the main option for searches is the distinction between: "the web" and "pages in English", which is hardly comprehensive or exhaustive.

My Thoughts

wwf.jpg

While this is certainly an interesting idea for a good cause, I'm not sure that I would entirely replace my trusty Google homepage with Ecosia's. That being said, thinking about saving the rain forest would definitely motivate me to meander over to Ecosia every now and then to perform a few searches. It may not be the best suited for searches that require high levels of manipulation or search power, it is sufficient for searches on a basic level. I like that you are able to track how much of the rain forest you've saved in the bottom left corner of the Ecosia page. With every search you run, you are also able to see the total amount of rain forest that has been saved to do. I applaud the folks at Ecosia for this innovative idea and am happy to donate to their cause, but they haven't quite convinced me to give up Google just yet (it's proven to be a very difficult task thus far), even to save the monkeys!

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