Italian prof launches social search service

An Italian professor whose research inspired the creators of Google now reckons he can go one better.

Massimo Marchiori – who created the algorithm for the HyperSearch internet page ranking service in the 1990s – is launching his own search engine and social media network.

Volunia is designed to speed up search by looking at different elements of websites, and lets users chat with other people who are researching the same thing.

Sites are ranked through a mixture of algorithms and user reviews, and a sidebar allows users chat to one another, as well as the owners of the websites they’re visiting.

It’s now open to selected ‘power users’ – initially, about 100,000 people.

“Power Users will find an entirely new application on the Web, whose innovation will not consist just in the search engine, which will be exclusively concentrated on the search for the most important sites world-wide, [but] rather in the whole user experience with the Volunia system,” says Marchiori.

Marchiori says the system will be rolled out more widely over the next few weeks, in 12 languages, and will be funded through advertising.

Launching new products aimed at competing with existing search services and social networks almost invariably ends in failure – and detail on the new service is very light.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, though, and it’s possible that the technology could attract a buyout and appear elsewhere one day.