"La Brujula," a Compass to Chile on the Internet: Developing Local Search Engines

Eduardo RODRÍGUEZ <edo@brujula.cl>
Chilenet / Universidad de Chile

Patricio NAVIA <pdn200@is7.nyu.edu>
New York University



Internet users face two problems when using search engines. Search requests return either too many entries or not all the relevant entries. Search engines like Lycos or Alta Vista will return an incredibly large number of site matches (not all of them relevant or accessible) while Yahoo and other search engines based on self-registration will often return a fewer number of matches but will not include important ones.

A map of California is not the best tool to find your way in Oakland. A universal search engine certainly provides excellent advantages but it has important shortcomings as well. Often, users are not interested in the big picture, they have specific concerns and their search encompasses a limited scope.

Local search engines can play an important complementary and supplementary role to huge search engines. In addition, local and/or theme oriented search engines would significantly help reduce the number of site matches returned in a given search and would also make it easier to maintain an accurate and up-to-date index of relevant sites. The Brujula (Compass) indexes and searches pages that pertain to Chile. Users interested in searching about Chile and related topics find in Brujula the most efficient and concise tool to find what they need. The Brujula also catalogs information and thus makes it easier for users to browse through relevant pages. Similar projects in other countries and areas of the world would make it easier for Internet navigators to conduct searches that return good and manageable results.

The Brujula was developed and is maintained by a private Internet provider working closely with national internet authorities. All the registered domains in .cl (Chile) and all the other domains physically located in Chile or linked to Chile in a significant manner are also included. Self -registration is also possible for individuals maintaining sites on Chile and Chilean topics around the world. The dual approach of indexing (including self registration) and conducting wide searches within the .cl and other relevant domains to Chile makes life much easier for users interested in finding information about Chile and information provided by Chilean sites.

In addition, La Brujula allows tracking of the links followed by users and thus provides valuable information for educational, commercial and marketing applications. Because La Brujula only lists sites in Chile and/or related to Chile, it provides an effective means of communication for advertisers and interested parties who can not afford or are not interested in reaching larger audiences.

Finally, La Brújula is presently working with other organizations in Latin America to coordinate the creation of a Latin American-wide search engine that can help create and sustain substantial regional cooperation and promote the development of an Internet community in the Spanish speaking world.