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Germany Quits EU-Based Search Engine Project

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-enough-googillionaires dept.

The Internet 135

anaesthetica writes "The Quaero project, a French initiative to build a European rival to Google, has lost the backing of the German government. The search engine was announced in 2005 by Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, but the German government under Merkel has decided that Quaero isn't worth the $1.3-2.6 billion commitment that development would require. Germany will instead focus on a smaller search engine project called Theseus. From the article: 'According to one French participant, organizers disagreed over the fundamental design of Quaero, with French participants favoring a sophisticated search engine that could sift audio, video and other multimedia data, while German participants favored a next- generation text-based search engine.'"

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135 comments

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496500)

Just link to google.com?

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496612)

Just link to google.com?
Because Chirac/Schröder/Merkel think it's a bad idea to just rely on one foreign search engine in a nation that staggers fastly into becoming a fascist rouge state ... *not* linking to google.com is the f***g point

Besides, as a fellow German, I really like Google, and I am convinced that whatever Theseus/Quaero will be, they will fail to a extend that is comparable to the German Autobahn Toll, the ALGII software, or the "Signaturgesetz"...

Re:Why not? (1)

compandsci (1045690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496700)

Because Chirac/Schröder/Merkel think it's a bad idea to just rely on one foreign search engine in a nation that staggers fastly into becoming a fascist rouge state ... *not* linking to google.com is the f***g point

As if I would trust a german search engine.

With KDE (also german) naming it will probably be named Koogle - no thanks!

Re:Why not? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496830)

a nation that staggers fastly into becoming a fascist rouge state ...
Hey, we may be gradually repressing rights, but we're not THAT big on makeup.

Re:Why not? (-1, Troll)

malice (82026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496898)

Because Chirac/Schröder/Merkel think it's a bad idea to just rely on one foreign search engine in a nation that staggers fastly into becoming a fascist rouge state

Oh, the irony, Herr Tomoe. Anyhoo, never let reality get in the way of business [spiegel.de] ... or politics, for that matter. [telegraph.co.uk]

Much easier to just rattle off paranoid "fascist rogue state" rabble.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496940)

Oh, the irony, Herr Tomoe. Anyhoo, never let reality get in the way of business... or politics, for that matter.
And that discredits his point how exactly?
Maybe we should heed a warning coming from a member of a society that actually experienced fascism at a time...

Re:Why not? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499936)

Of course, fascism is just the bastard brother of real world communism, but most people can't get this through their heads. Also not to mention that the ones hurtling us quickest towards fascism are those who want more and more regulations and last time I checked that position was still held, albeit barely, by the democrat party(The individual views of its voting members being largely irrelevant). If the republicans can figure out WHY they got their asses handed to them in the last set of elections( Like maybe they should actually keep their campaign promises and work towards the partys stated ideals) This might change. I give it maybe a 20% chance though.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497018)

Europe is quite socialist, the USA have become quite fascist (says me, a German who lived in the US for a while).

Of course both ideologies are rather similar in that they're opposed to freedom, but link big business with centralized state power.

Re:Why not? (2, Interesting)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497172)

Usually, I have a policy not to feed trolls, but I won't let *this* stand in the open...

Yes, I (and many europeans nowadays) have some very strong opinions about the contemporary US. "Fascist rouge state" is one of the more friendly ones. This is mainly based on the all to similar politics excercised by your political leadership. Lets elaborate on this some more, shall we?

Reichstagsbrand [wikipedia.org] - 9/11 [wikipedia.org]
Ermächtigungsgesetz [wikipedia.org] -
Patriot Act [wikipedia.org]
Internement Camps [wikipedia.org] (note: I speak of camps for political prisoners, not of death camps who are a different matter) - Cuba [wikipedia.org]
Fighting a war that every sane person knew cannot be won beforehand [wikipedia.org] - Fighting a war that every sane person knew cannot be won beforehand [wikipedia.org]

Pretty strong similarities, I think. I'll refrain from prognoses when the US will start another genocide...

Re:Why not? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498002)

You don't elaborate, you just group together things that have little to nothing in common. Good job on that one, though! Seriously, have you even tried to read those articles you link to?

Kudos to the moderators for demonstrating their total cluelessness! Note - a set of Wikipedia links is not by definition "interesting".

Re:Why not? (0, Flamebait)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17500070)

Yeah, you're an idiot. Various government entities that don't include congress have been around in the US for a long time, the most intrusive being the ones most supported by the dems. BATFE, FDA, and the FCC are the most recognizable, and the one least overviewed by the govt. is the BATFE. So shut the fuck up about this presidency being the one doing the most damage to actual freedoms as the situations been circling the drain for quite some time. The eliminates article 1. Article 2 is eliminated by various presidencies saying that tehy witholdcertain abilities as well as the fact that something has to go to court to be reliably eliminated as unconstitutional, and the courts have been known to refuse to hear certain cases if they don't want to get involved in something particularly sticky. Article 3 is largely irrelevant to the discussion I think, not sure, other than the obvious ability of various government agencies to make their own law. Art4 is something which does not apply, while yes, art5 is similar to the patriot act and a dozen similar bills that were passed with a time limit.

Nazi Cosmetics?!? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497028)

fascist rouge

I just got a flashback of a heavily made-up and pucker-lipped Joel Grey singing "Money Makes The World Go 'Round," which has amused me, but I'll probably have that song in my head now for the rest of the week, which is not so amusing.

Nazis? WTF?!?!? (1)

MICHICAUST (732976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499502)

Hoi!

Slightly OT, but... Just wondering wtf Nazis (again) have to do with this..?

Please, tell me - anyone?? 8)

Regards,

  - Michicaust

Re:Why not? (1)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497098)

Just checking - are you saying that Germany is becoming a fascist rogue state, or France? Or both?

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497566)

Please remember this, my US friends: in (mainland) Europe it's hip to be as unpatriotic as you can be. Quite a culture-shock for most Americans, because it's really true. Homeland-bashing is our version of patriotism.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498830)

a few years ago it was yahoo that was the juggernaut.

now its google.

theres no reason not to believe another one might not crop up on its own.

its not like an operating system, its very easy to switch to another search engine if google starts to screw up. its fear over absolutely nothing.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496992)

that would be one hell of an expensive link.

Re:Why not? (0, Flamebait)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497436)

If the EUtopian's Department of Redundancy Department wants to spend billions of Euros making their own Google clone, or a GPS clone, or a whole new European internet just so they can say it's not controlled by an American corporation, more power to them, because the results aren't what they're looking for, only keeping people employed in their make-work economy.

Google Rival? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496524)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Google required 2.6 billion ANYTHING to get started. A true competitor for Google will not require a ton of money, but a ton of brainpower. Google is successful because their have a great philosophy and attract the best and brightest. They know how to treat their people (customers and employees both) right and do so.

What would make them think that pooring money into a startup could create what numerous other companies couldn't? (MS, Yahoo, AskJeeves, etc) AskJeeves even had a really great idea (natural language queries) and STILL didn't make it.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496556)

What would make them think that pooring money into a startup could create what numerous other companies couldn't? (MS, Yahoo, AskJeeves, etc) AskJeeves even had a really great idea (natural language queries) and STILL didn't make it.

Easy. A EU Directive. They could note that Google doesn't properly filter Nazi hate speech (or any other type they are looking for like the Mohammed cartoons) and ban it. It is really hard to compete against a government that can make your product illegal (to use or advertise on).

Re:Google Rival? (1)

Gay Akuma (1047180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496558)

Its too the point that Google is a cultural icon. Google is so familiar to us now that even if something superior was out there we'd rather use Google.

Re:Google Rival? (2, Interesting)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496666)

Its too the point that Google is a cultural icon.
So was Altavista, back in the day.

There is a lot of critisism on google about privacy concerns. It is conceivable that Google will not be able to preserve their 'do'nt be evil' image. However, if that would happen I don't think a government built search engine would be a suitable replacement.

Re:Google Rival? (5, Insightful)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496578)

You'll probably get modded up by all sorts of naive people.

However, the fact of the matter is that creating a rival to an established brand CAN be a decent strategy if you see that the established company is either insanely profitable (thus suggseting that there is room for another market entrant), insanely inefficient / bloated despite its success, or geographically underserves some markets.

In this case, #1 and #3 apply pretty well. Google, while great for english speakers, is quite a ways behind for other languages (not necessarily French, but when I use google in Japanese or in eastern-european languages, for example, it's pretty crap).

However, the key often is that since the techology is established and there is a reasonably well established technology out there as to how this sort of thing should work (of course there is room for improvement, but this is less central), such projects require less brilliance, but more a high degree of competence. Such competence costs money. Such products cost money. Off the top of my head, Opodo is a good example of this. They entered a busy market with nothing particularly new. They build a nonspectacular but working system and muscled their way into a decent market share. Sometimes, that's just the way things are done.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496616)

Disagree. Searches using traditional chinese characters and Google works just fine in this part of the world. You must be using Google in a more than ordinary way. (and an engine that targeted overusers would be too specialised)

Re:Google Rival? (2, Informative)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496846)

Searches using traditional chinese characters and Google works just fine in this part of the world.

Actually using Google in Japanese sucks for exactly that reason. If you try search for almost any Japanese name (in Kanji) Google thinks you're trying to write Chinese, even though my browser is set up for Japanese, so it's sending the right Accept-Language headers. I've even had that sitting in Japan, working on a Japanese-bought laptop. So it really is a problem.

Rich.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496926)

Is that true despite setting up either preferences or the language tool preferences to your liking --such as "Search pages written in: Search pages located in:", etc?

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498388)

are you searching from google.com, or from google.co.jp?

Re:Google Rival? (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497672)

Google, while great for english speakers, is quite a ways behind for other languages (not necessarily French, but when I use google in Japanese or in eastern-european languages, for example, it's pretty crap).

Google has very good internationalization features and I'm also looking up information in Eastern European language (Bulgarian) with it.

You have to understand though: the results can only be as good and as much, as is the available content on the lookup topic. You realize the enormous amount of sites on the Internet are written in English, and a small fraction in all other languages.

You can see the same in Wikipedia where the non-English editions have worse and less content, and lots of common items missing from them. You want too suggest this is fixable not by more people improving on a category, but creating special EU Wikipedia... Well, sorry to burst your bubble about it.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497740)

the established company is either insanely profitable (thus suggseting that there is room for another market entrant), insanely inefficient / bloated despite its success, or geographically underserves some markets. In this case, #1 and #3 apply pretty well.
I'm sure anything created by Eurocrats will also fill #2 nicely.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498178)

Google, while great for english speakers, is quite a ways behind for other languages.
One key difficulty for many languages is getting a good stemming algorithm so as to be able to break a sentence down into a group of meanings (thus all the words "jumping", "jumps" and "jumped" all go down to the same basic meaning, "jump", making it far easier to build useful indices). This is an area that has had a lot of work done in English, but I'm told (by someone who knows a lot more about this than I do) that the algorithms used there don't work too well with other languages. Governmental investment in developing such algorithms is perfectly reasonable, and should benefit all search engines eventually.

Another big problem is that many webpages don't declare what language they're in. Please remember to add those lang attributes!

Re:Google Rival? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496634)

The problem is that while top university graduates in the US may go to Silicon Valley and form a startup (like the Google founders did), the top university students in France are being groomed for lifetime jobs in civil service (witness the recent protests at attempted labor law reform). They're doing this with a big government program because that's the only way they know how to do things.

Re:Google Rival? (3, Informative)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497154)

"the top university students in France are being groomed for lifetime jobs in civil service"

So how much of a stake of companies like Ubisoft is owned by the French government?

"witness the recent protests at attempted labor law reform"

You mean the "reforms" where they made it easier to fire somebody based on their age alone? About the only thing distinctly French I saw there was the fact that they protested instead of presenting legal challenges to a patently discriminatory law.

I've seen these arguments presented an awful lot on Slashdot, but haven't seen much to back it up, not even decent anecdotal evidence of the "I spent some time in France..." variety.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497756)

> You mean the "reforms" where they made it easier to fire somebody based on their age alone?

That was an aspect I really didn't like about the CPE and I would not have been affected by it personally. It was also probably illegal under European labour law but Villepin is a bit of an idiot. However the current situation is that due to restrictive labour laws it is very difficult to get directly employed in France without going through a long period of pre-employment such as a CDD (short term contract) or by being kept at arms length employed though a shell company (in the form of SSII). Neither is a pleasant place to be either. The state capitalists that run France always find ways get around the best laid plans of socialists.

Big, French government funded tech. projects are a money pit for the tax payer. They are generally pork-barrels to appeal to some part of the electorate. Think of Jacques Stern's ill fated ACRI project, getting into big, high cost supercomputers just as the market was shifting towards clusters and grids. Airbus might be a good counter-example but is it profitable? Is the superjumbo a good idea? It is certainly beset by some problems.

Where is the French Google or the French Microsoft or any number of American world leaders? They don't exist not because France doesn't produce excellent CS graduates or some excellent businessmen, they don't exist because France, and Europe, don't provide the environment where such companies can start up and expand (just as well in the case of Microsoft). France has essentially a "state capitalist" economic system which encourages national champions such as Groupe Bull or Thomson. As someone involved with groups seeking funding in the past the response from the govt. is usually "great idea" but we prefer you do to that within an existing structure such as Bull. There are some notable French startups, Kelkoo for example but they exist despite the economic and tax framework.

The charge that French university students are being prepared for a lifetime in state employ does stick. State controlled research labs soak up too much talent without producing sufficient results. Research becomes a means to and end. Many French university pre-grads dream of nothing more ambitious than entering a nice, safe, civil service job - in particular a University lecturer with 8 hours of classes per week. It is not very ambitious is it?

Re:Google Rival? (-1, Flamebait)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497770)

You must be really terrified at the thought of actually competing for your market. Yet you like it when MS is fined for anticompetitive behaviour. Typical leftist hypocracy.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497844)

Ok, half my family are Moroccan immigrants in France. They are unable to get good jobs because of France's labor policy. In France, nearly all employee's have the right to legal review if they are fired. However, temporary jobs do not count. So this creates a two-tier job system, with employees hiring and shedding temporary jobs, while retaining a couple of impossible to shed permanent jobs. And the reforms? it tried to eliminate legal review to termination. And I dont see why protest is necessary for a law allowing age discrimination, most smart companies dont do it, and if you catch an employer that stupid, find another job. There are some exceptions, such as Ubisoft. But France has twice the population of California, you cant float a couple companies as their saving grace.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498166)

You mean the "reforms" where they made it easier to fire somebody based on their age alone?
While in a way that's true, it's not the whole truth. The reforms were in fact an exception to a ludicrous law which made it nearly impossible to fire anyone at all.

About the only thing distinctly French I saw there was the fact that they protested
What's distinctly French about it is that only France had such a crazy law to start with - though Belgium & Germany run a close second, at least in the public sector.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497498)

Those with an entrepreneurial spirit go where the private money is; Dublin or London. There are numerous startups founded bf French informaticians. They've just started them in more business-friendly countries.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

nostriluu (138310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499636)


I can't agree with you. I have noticed many companies and projects based in France. For example, eXo, VLC and Nuxeo. In contrast, I rarely see projects based in the UK, etc. It's anecdotal, but there seems to be a lot of entrepreneurship.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496638)

1. Brainpower costs money.
2. Unfortunately I could not find an offivial list of institutes which receive the money, but I know that there are research institutes from universities involved.

Projects like these help keeping up research in Germany. We don't need to pay for studying (at least just in some places in Germany and even there it is a small amount compared to other countries), and that is a good thing.

Re:Google Rival? (1)

JJJK (1029630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496974)

Easy to imagine how projects like this immediately get support from politicians who do not have much time to get involved, but like to see their names on things that include keywords like "Multimedia" or "Internet" and will be finished in time to support their careers. There is probably a group of people who are really enthusiastic about this, for various reasons. But the majority of the supporters probably don't care about the outcome and just need something to look good on their résumés. Or maybe I just read too much Dilbert, who knows.

Re:Google Rival? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497118)

This is government at work. Almost by definition they don't have the brainpower, so they compensate by throwing money at the problem. Meetings, commissions and processes cost a lot and no private company would help them if it weren't for the huge subsidized monopoly that the government promises them.

Pssst. Don't tell anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498300)

...but Google is NSA!

<<:-)

Politic Vaporware (1)

foorama (1048114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499304)

I followed a bit this 'Quaero' quest and it seems that:

- Public funding has not yet started and is not likely to start (french elections, EU commission blocking, etc ...)

- Even though no public $$ has been spent yet, Exalead [exalead.com] , a Quaero member, already has a Web search engine, with a few billion pages, and some nice features. (thumbnails and automatic clustering)

Conclusion: this Quaero project is a french politic vaporware, BUT any private french or european company may still have a chance to produce something interesting for the search engine market. Even if they're french ;)

Weird project (4, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496548)

I think it was a weird project in the first place, and quite a waste. Trying to make something better than Google would be like trying to catch up with Michael Schumacher while he's got 9 laps of advance on you. Why spend 2 billions on something as useless anyways, we (in France) have a trillion euros debt, an economic situation (among others) that could be better and we're pumping 2 billions into THAT?

Re:Weird project (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496594)

we (in France) have a trillion euros debt, an economic situation (among others) that could be better and we're pumping 2 billions into THAT?

      Of course. This makes a lot more sense than say, creating work for unemployed youths. /sarcasm

Re:Weird project (4, Interesting)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496644)

we (in France) have a trillion euros debt, an economic situation (among others) that could be better and we're pumping 2 billions into THAT?

            Of course. This makes a lot more sense than say, creating work for unemployed youths. /sarcasm


Even here in the EU with all its strange use of money, I suppose that most of those 2 billions would eventually be spent on manpower. So it might actually also help in solving an employment problem.

Re:Weird project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496964)

In soviet Russia, unemployed were people.

Re:Weird project (2, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497320)

I think the majority of that 2 billion would be spend on bureaucracy and moving the project from France to Germany and back every x months.

Re:Weird project (1)

jrady (127288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497874)

> Even here in the EU with all its strange use of money, I suppose that most of those 2 billions would eventually be spent on > manpower. So it might actually also help in solving an employment problem. at least when it comes to the german side of it, your statement is highly questionable, the "main designated" contractor for this would have been empolis, which belongs to arvato which belongs to the Bertelsmann Group... the money would have (has?) landed in diverse channels, definitely NOT in creating new jobs.... just my 2 pfennigs worth...

Re:Weird project (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497978)

This is Keynesian economics and it was proven wrong a long time ago. The public sector does not survive by fulfilling a demand particularly efficiently, if someone in the private sector spent inanely they would loose money and probably go bankrupt, so the people who use resources inefficiently are pushed out of the market by the efficient producers. Therefore, there is a much higher chance of a public sector worker to be wasting resources. This is because the money was stolen, and not voluntarily invested. People are usually more careful with their own money! This process simply pulls money out of more efficient spending and puts it into some big bureaucratic machine.

Re:Weird project (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17500442)

This is Keynesian economics and it was proven wrong a long time ago.

In case you're saying that Keynesian economics have been proven flawed, you must be either british or american, because it hasn't, and although a new wave of anti-Keysianism/ultra-libertarianism wiped Keynes out of the scope in certain countries since about 1973, some countries (such as France) are still more Keynesian than anything else and it works out, at least not worse as in ultra-libertarian countries.

Otherwise, please disregard this comment.

Re:Weird project (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17500358)

I suppose that most of those 2 billions would eventually be spent on manpower

In the case of a Google-class search engine, I'd think it would pay a few highly-qualified people and that most would go to the pharaonic amount of hardware needed. If you want to invest in order to help with employment you're better off building a huge bridge or an aircraft carrier.

Re:Weird project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496680)

Of course. This makes a lot more sense than say, creating work for unemployed youths. /sarcasm

What's keeping youths in France unemployed is the fact that hiring someone in France amounts to a lifetime commitment -- you basically can't fire people.

The government *tried* to fix that by introducing some labor law reform, and the youth protested, so the government backed down.

Someone needs to tell these kids that if you try to make the employer/employee bargain too one-sided, the employers will just leave. Global companies say to themselves, "Why don't we just open an office in another EU country? Ireland looks nice."

Re:Weird project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17499490)

If the companies (& kids, for that matter) were smart about it, they'd leave France for one of the other 25 EU countries. Even if you want to be stubournly French about it, you can still move to Blegium or one of the smaller French-speaking EU countries. Its not like the 1960's and they can't move to find work any more.

Re:Weird project (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496736)

The EU is like that, always getting into things the government (or this quasi non-elected government) agencies have no business being in. But they have too much money (guess the unwilling source) and blow it on all types of stupid crap.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy when the EU levels the playing field for the computer industry against MS (so the others have a fair shot), but that should be it's only job. There are more than enough search engines around. Google is not a monopoly (yet). This is stupid waste of money and will end up as nothing but another expensive bureacratic blunder.

Why is this project wierd? (2, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497036)

I think it was a weird project in the first place, and quite a waste. Trying to make something better than Google would be like trying to catch up with Michael Schumacher while he's got 9 laps of advance on you.
That's what analysts and experts said about Boeing, Airbus would never work out. It is also what they said about Microsoft in the mid 90's: Microsoft Windows NT would eventually kill off *nix and and dominate the Server OS market. As it turned out Linux appeared out of a dark corner of the Usenet and ate up most of the market share NT would have done and Unix turned out to be thougher that most people thought. Sometimes state sponsored competitors work out and sometimes a hobby project somebody posted a link to on the Usenet turns into a fiercely competitive product. I don't think the intention with this program was to push Google out of the market. I'd say the EU's intention with this project was more akin to what was done with the Airbus consortium, an attempt to inject some competition by force into a very important market that is more or less monopolized by a single company. Google is becoming dangerously dominant in the search engine budsiness. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft own this market with the latter two losing ground to Google and they are all US based companies. How much do you think it is worth to own the company that controls the search engine that 45-50% of web surfers (and that percentage is steadily climbing) use to find content online? I can see why the EU would think it's worth while to snatch a portion of that action away from the US.

Re:Weird project (5, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497052)

Because France is in the dying days of "Everything American private industry can do, Europe can do better by lots of public expenditure". This search engine was announced just before or just after Chirac announced that he was going to take on CNN and the BBC by setting up a public sector competitor. Expect that idea to be quietly downscaled too (if only because last I heard the plan was to do most of the broadcasts in French, which does restrict the international market somewhat).

Personally, I think throwing lots of money into high-tech projects potentially makes more sense in job-creation terms than most of the French attempts to create jobs in the recent past (eg paying young people to carry people's suitcases to trains). Except that there is little social mobility and not much more career mobility in France, so you just know that virtually all those involved in the search engine project will be recruited from the French grandes écoles whose graduates don't have an employment problem anyway. It's virtually impossible to end up working in cutting-edge IT in France unless you start working towards that end from the age of 14.

Most of this stuff is now about Chirac trying to build a legacy. He should be history in a few months' time, and I can't see either of his likely successors continuing to behave as if the président is Louis XIV. It's not inconceivable that Sarkozy could even try building bridges towards the US.

Re:Weird project (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497462)

I think you're overplaying the "better by lots of public expenditure" aspect. Yes, public expenditure funds these projects, but "beating" the competition is not necessary. Providing alternatives is; it is one more manifestation of the French foreign policy of encouraging a "multi-polar" world, where there are numerous sources of power, knowledge, legitimacy, etc.

In of itself, not a bad idea; we're all against monopolies, aren't we? I suppose that's no longer popular now that those terrible, terrible people, the French, are involved. After all, they have the temerity to think they can compete with the mighty US? How dare they.

Re:Weird project (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497642)

If you check out my profile, you'll see that I'm relatively sympathetic to the French :) But the multipolar thing only makes sense if the alternative actually works.

The Minitel was long promoted by the French as an alternative to the Internet, and, at times, it offered a superior user experience to the Internet, but failure at a national level to understand where the Internet was going has resulted in France falling years behind the US, Germany and the UK, for example, in terms of Internet literacy, especially among business leaders. The same happened with microcomputers, where the promotion of assorted French hardware long after it made sense resulted in a situation today where Microsoft has an even stronger grip than in other countries. And I could write books about how France Télécom's sort-of state monopoly has crippled telecoms in France, and, to some extent, continues to do so.

If there had ever been any hope of the search engine project producing a useful alternative to Google, it would have been interesting, but that was never going to happen because the French elite doesn't "get" the concept of democratisation of knowledge (as the choice of a latin name for the project illustrates).

Re:Weird project (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499806)

"Quite a waste" seems to describe most of the "European" initiatives and projects these days. Everything has to be "European." We can't go back to individual nations because that automatically leads to nationalism, and that auomatically leads to gas chambers and genocide, as everyone knows.

semantic search engine (3, Informative)

butterberg (1046750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496592)

Theseus is thought to be some /semantic/ search engine, so this would be at least something new compared with Google. But don't ask me what is exactly meant by "semantic search engine", nor ask me about Theseus, I did not find any link on its project page. I have this information from German Heise forum some weeks ago (it's in German!):

        http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/82708/from/ rss09 [heise.de]

Re:semantic search engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496670)

Some time before we get to the "semantic web" and thus semantic searches: Tim Berners-Lee originally expressed the vision of the semantic web as follows: "I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web - the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A 'Semantic Web', which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The 'intelligent agents' people have touted for ages will finally materialize. Ye also have Search 2.0 cos such as a search 2.0

Re:semantic search engine (1)

creysoft (856713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498454)

The problem with the semantic web is that it's basically an AI problem. As of this writing, we don't currently have a way to represent arbitrary knowledge (Data, yes. Knowledge, no.) Until we find a way to make computers *understand* information, rather than simply shifting bits around according to prewritten recipes, there's not going to be any true semantic web, intelligent search, or natural language human/computer interaction.

And, frankly, that leap in technology seems a long, long, long way off.

Good! Bad! Dead horse, anyway! (4, Insightful)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496672)

As much as I don't like the Google monopoly, I felt/feel uncomfortable with a state/big company founded alternative driven by a French/German/European resentment against Google/the US.

So as a person born, raised and up to the Master educated in Germany I like the following statement from the article:

"In Germany I think there was also resistance to the idea of a top-down project driven by governments,"[...]

What I would like to see is a more community developed alternative to Google. And come on, Google is brilliant and huge but it can't be the end of development in the search engine field.

And even Google started small, they just had something new and way better than what was there.

And if it's true

that some of Germany's top research innovators were not motivated to "reinvent the wheel."

Well, they should invent either the engine to the wheel or get rid of the wheel idea and invent wings.

Re:Good! Bad! Dead horse, anyway! (1)

MythMoth (73648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497312)

And even Google started small, they just had something new and way better than what was there.

Absolutely. The best alternative, Altavista, was very good, but Google was outstanding. And Altavista had dissolved into a messy "portal" while Google had the clean minimal usability approach that Altavista used to have.

Build a better search engine and the world will beat a path to your door :-)

All the arguments I ever heard in favour of Quaero sounded extremely misguided big-government oriented. If a decent competitor to Google arises it won't be from the public sector.

Re:Good! Bad! Dead horse, anyway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17499308)

> As much as I don't like the Google monopoly

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Google hasn't put up any kind of barrier to entry for other companies. There are lots of competitors and if no one uses them, it's because they're not very good when compared to Google. In other words, Google is what it is because it's the top competitor, not because it's able to suppress competition.

Re:Good! Bad! Dead horse, anyway! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499706)

The common misconception of a monopoly is that it has to have been gained by the ruthless suppression of competition. Here in the United States, we call that an "illegal monopoly". Google's "monopoly" (and I use the term loosely) is entirely dependent upon the quality of their services, and the value of those services to their customers. They could be displaced in a heartbeat if something better comes along.

However, I disagree with you slightly. While Google hasn't put up any artificial barriers to competition, in the way Microsoft or the RBOCs have done here in the U.S., any competition will likely be subject to Guilder's Law. In other words, they'll have to be many times better than Google in order to make me change my home page. I don't see that happening any time soon. In any event one can hardly penalize a company for having products that are too good, particularly when they're essentially free so far as the typical Web user is concerned.

Re:Good! Bad! Dead horse, anyway! (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499800)

from wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
monopoly [...] is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods.

And yes I know what I'm talking about. And no you are right it's not monopoly in the strict sense of the word. They are dominating the field with such a power that it is a near monopoly.

Microsoft also has no real monopoly in the Desktop OS sector, but I would still call it that, despite that I know that it is stricly speaking inaccurate.

Yet another Eureaucratic waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496688)

So 1.2999bn goes into endless pointless meetings, consultants, market research, unrelated university research grants and other nonesense, leaving some scraps over for some second rate programmers. Does anyone really believe a govermnent run project like this has a chance of success???

Re:Yet another Eureaucratic waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496722)

Does anyone really believe a govermnent run project like this has a chance of success???
Yes, of course. The backers of this project by definition do believe it has a chance of success. One less of them thinks so, but there are those who still believe in it or the plug would have been pulled.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496764)

They probably left when they heard that the search engine would eventually be going into Iraq

Gotta "keep up" with Google's Test Search Engine (1)

sagefire.org (731545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496788)

Since Google tests and refines it's search using http://www.searchmash.com/ [searchmash.com] , maybe they should be trying to out-do Google's future instead of trying to keep up with it's present?

Re:Gotta "keep up" with Google's Test Search Engin (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497506)

Currently searchmash doesn't give me any results. Maybe it's because I don't have javascript enabled.

If that's where Google is going, I hope there will be an alternative. A UI for search shouldn't require javascript.

EU based? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496868)

Pardon my ignorance, but how exactly is this project 'EU based'?
A project based in Europe, yes, but as far as I can tell only the Germans and French are involved.
According to the article, the EU isn't funding this project.
As for a geographical reason to call it EU based..
The EU has 27 member states so it sounds a bit silly.
You don't call a British project 'EU based', do you?
Besides, it suggests a kind of pan-European cooperation which just isn't there...
Well, besides the obvious Franco-German axis, but they're just trying too hard with their whole zomfg America Sucks!!1 angle /just my 2 eurocents

Re:EU based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497298)

Because of their keyboard layout, Frenchmen and Germans never accidentally type "zomfg".

Re:EU based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498384)

And that's why we need a french/german/european-except-for-the-limeys-who-p refer-to-kiss-usian-ass search engine.

So there.

Re: $1.3-2.6 billion commitment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496878)

There is no technology on earth that could fix this mess http://europa.eu/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

God thanks I'm unemployed and not wasting any precious money on this by paying taxes.

I'd go onto the street. But staying unemployed and just not paying taxes has become much more efficient these days.

It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497040)

It has nothing to do with a search engine, France wanted to invest money in hi-tech. Thompson knows how to get lots of money out of governments, and lobbied to get money for a search engine. Deutsch Telecom knows how to milk the German government and joins in.

They convinced Chirac that it would need billions, he promises hundreds of millions. He expects to see key European talent flooding into Paris, instead Thompson uses the money internally.

That is not a search engine they are building, it is just an attempt to milk money from governments for IT. If Video was hot when they launched it, they'd be making a video CODEC instead.

Merkel is better off spending the money in smaller university projects or a smaller project with better talent. As little as 10-20 top notch people is all it would take even today.

What we have here.... is a failure to communicate (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497066)

... and thats how they want it. What they want, they get.

I've noticed that there are a number of ways that innovative IT projects get done:

1 - Somebody gets an idea, doesn't ask permission, just implements it and it grows
2 - Somebody has an idea, pays others to implement it and it grows, or dies
3 - Somebody has an idea, wastes untold funds on implementing it the wrong way, it dies
4 - Somebody has an idea, government wastes untold funds implementing the wrong idea
5 - variations on one of the above

The trouble with saying that we are going to do something different than what the current market leader has done is that it seldom works if it is supposed to supplant that current leader. Some recent examples? VHS vs. Betamax? HD-DVD vs DVD? Zune vs. iPod?

Google has not quite been iconized to the point that Hoover or Kleenex have been, but trying to replace Google at this point is the same as the Intel vs. AMD issues except that Google is way ahead of anyone else (don't bother pointing out the other available search engines at this point since it is not germane).

Germany and the EU may well demand that there is an EU equal to Google, but it does not follow that this government alternative will become self sustaining. If it can't function without life supporting funds from governments, it will be discontinued at some point.

Even if the technology is mature, there doesn't seem to be any business model to make this EU funded search engine self supporting. When the funds begin to dry up, so will innovation at this new search engine company, and that will signal the end of it. If Google stops innovating, it too will find its own end of life coming. Lack of innovation == lack of relevance in the fast pace of high tech. Governments are notorious for 'lack of innovation' problems.

Whether this is a good idea on Germany's part or not, there doesn't seem to be any historical evidence to indicate that this project will be long lived.

Re:What we have here.... is a failure to communica (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498648)

> Germany and the EU may well demand that there is an EU equal to Google

If you'd RTFA or even just the /. article you'd know that Germany is actually OPPOSED to the idea of a government driven search engine, that's why the pulled out. More often than not it's the French that are in love with gargantuan government projects.

Re:What we have here.... is a failure to communica (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17499656)

HD-DVD vs DVD?

you were expecting HD-DVD to overtake DVD sales in less than six months when HDTV has become mass market only in the past year?

Ach, ja. (-1, Flamebait)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497144)

I guess forever gone are the days when France and Germany would disagree and Belgium would cower in the corner, sucking its thumb and waiting for the sound of the Boche marching through the Ardennes... Ach du Lieber Himmel...

*sings softly* ...über alles, über alles in der Welt,...

Mozilla should bring out a search engine (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497186)

They could quietly grab the bookmarks from everyone as an initial base set of "quality" links.

Then of course they would be evil and in direct competition with Google.
They already have the fox in hell, so might as well make him work ;)

Nutch, anyone?! (1)

BoomShaker (1048040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497358)

Why will this project cost billions when someone just needs to download an open source solution like Nutch (http://lucene.apache.org/nutch) and start injecting URLs?? While the Nutch algorithm is not on par with PageRank, it has parser plugins for virtually all popular doc types and should scale nicely due to the Hadoop distributed file system. Perhaps some European governments could even donate money or code to the project. Presumably the reason for a European effort is coverage/content quality and privacy concerns. Nutch would address those issues...or is the real reason pride and the fear of "not-invented-here"?

Re:Nutch, anyone?! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497830)

Have you ever tried to manage a Terabyte of search engine database? It's not a task for the weak-willed or overly optimistic, and Google is well beyond that size of search information to manage. The infrastructure to do the web-searching, as well, is large and expensive to manage. Even a great search tool, by itself, has no chance against that kind of infrastructure. It would take billions to build that from scratch.

Re:Nutch, anyone?! (1)

BoomShaker (1048040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498270)

Software is definitely only one piece of the equation. But I'm pretty sure that we are talking millions and not billions for the infrastructure/people to run a large search engine. Is the purpose to compete with Google and all of their various services or to provide an EU search engine alternative ?? Google spends tons of cash on projects like AdWords, GMail, GTalk, GMaps, Finance, GooTube and others that are not directly search engine services.

Re:Nutch, anyone?! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17498960)

It might be one billion euros instead of 2.whatever. The infrastructure needed to do a search engine well is enormous: mny of Google's other services seem to be built from leftover cycles and resources of their core services, so leaving them out is not as much of a savings as one might hope.

competition != better_product (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497572)

I am so sick of the default answer to all things in a capitalist economy; "competition will make the products better". Sure, in the short run all of the products get optimized, but not necessarily "better". Car makers have plenty of so-called competition in design, fuel efficiency, production, etc, but where is our uber-efficient electric car? All we get for our money are SUVs and sports cars. If you want an efficient gas-electric you need to wait a year or two for Toyota to allow you to have one. That is competition at its best.

So Germany wisely decided that $2.6B to reinvent the wheel isn't a good investment. Good for them. Google may not be the best is can be, but I'm willing to bet that any "competition" between search engines will follow the same lines it has already - namely added features like calendars, blogs, and browser-embedded search windows. Like I need another buggy feature to support for my users.

Re:competition != better_product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17497638)

I am so sick of the default answer to all things in a capitalist economy; "competition will make the products better". Sure, in the short run all of the products get optimized, but not necessarily "better". Car makers have plenty of so-called competition in design, fuel efficiency, production, etc, but where is our uber-efficient electric car?

Probably waiting there with the perpetual motion machine

All we get for our money are SUVs and sports cars. If you want an efficient gas-electric you need to wait a year or two for Toyota to allow you to have one. That is competition at its best.

The glass is half full, not half empty. Toyota doesn't like forcing people to wait a year or two - they do that now simply because they don't have the capability. At least not yet - its just a matter of time; they're working on increasing capacity so that everybody that wants hybrids won't have to wait. And Toyota can make more money.

Ironically, remember when minivans (the SUVs of the early 1980s) were first introduced? There was such demand for them that it was hard to get them in the first few years. Very similar to how hybrids are now today.

I also would stress next generation text search (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17497880)

I may be missing something, but isn't searching text (all types of documents) much more important for **real work** that searching pictures and video?

On the other hand, I believe in the utility of next generation text search that clusters documents and allows search for words by word sense (search for "bank" in the sense noun, financial institution - and not return results for "by the bank of the river", "bank the airplane to he right", etc.). Also, support better search within search, etc. I am working on these technologies for my little http://knowledgebooks.com/ [knowledgebooks.com] business.

I do get high value from online videos of technical talks and really enjoy listening or watching keynote talks, etc. However, I know what sites to go to for technical talk videos. If I need to search for photos (seldom), Flickr and Picasa/Google work fine. Fun sites like YouTube.com are easily searchable. Actually, a little OT, but: YouTube.com is useful in a practical sense: a good source of news clips covering wider points of view not usually seen on news media owned by our corporate overlords/masters.

because??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17498392)

Why the hell do the french and germans feel its necessary to create a search engine to compete with google? Why don't the work on an OS to compete with Windows? And what part does the french and german governments play in this? Isn't the french competitive strategy to run away from threats?

Is Mexico a part of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17499424)

After all, yo Quaero Taco Bell.
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