1. Computing

Blinkx, a Video Search Engine

By

What is Blinkx?

Blinkx is a video search engine that allows you to search for audio and video clips not only using keywords and phrases, but also content in the actual clips that you're looking for.

For example, if you wanted to find Kermit the Frog's "It's Not Easy Being Green", you could type in "having to spend each day the color of the leaves", and Blinkx would be able to fetch your data using not only your content, but the concept behind your content - the spoken word (or in this case, the lyrics). I just searched for "It's Not Easy Being Green" and found an NPR broadcast of a celebration of Kermit's birthday - it's not the perfect result I was looking for, but interesting none the less.

How does Blinkx work?

It's pretty standard from the front page-you just type in a keyword or keyphrase (make sure you put quotes around your query if you want Blinkx to search for the entire thing) and click Enter.

This is where it gets different. One thing that I noticed right away on the left hand side is a slider that allows you to skew your search towards "Date" (if you're looking for time-sensitive material this would be helpful) or "Relevance", which you would want to manipulate to make your search results more appropriate to what you're actually looking for.

What about search filtering?

Safe Search was enabled when I was fooling around with it, but I don't see that it works real well, especially since my query of "sesame street" (can you tell I have kids?) brought back a parody of Sesame Street characters doing decidedly non-Sesame Street activities. You can also check on or off which of the 25-odd video and audio channels that Blinkx is picking up audio and video feeds from, as well as radio channels.

Blinkx Video Search Organization

On the left hand side is the Smart Folder and the Smart Folder RSS Feed. How do these things work? I'll let Blinkx tell you:

"Automatically updating their content as new information becomes available, Smart Folders organize information for you. Smart Folders are just like normal folders and you can put them wherever you normally put folders. You can create them from your query or from individual results that a query produces and put them wherever you normally put folders, be it on your hard drive, in your My Documents folder or on your desktop.

Once you've trained a Smart Folder, so that it knows what type of information you want it to store, it automatically gets smarter over time as it continually scans for new information and automatically updates itself. You don't need to remember a particular word or filename, if content is available, it is automatically brought to you without you having to even know of its existence.

For example, if you were doing a research project, you could execute a search in blinkx.tv, and create Smart Folders from your query or from the individual results that your query has produced. Three days later, a video clip on this subject that has appeared on the web would automatically be put into the Smart Folder for you."

How about Blinkx Video Search RSS feeds?

If you would rather not have to search Blinkx for a recurring favorite topic, say, you want to know anything that comes up for the query "fashion shows", you simply need to first do a search in Blinkx for that query, and then click on Create Smart Feed RSS on the left hand side of the site results page. Once you do that, you'll get another window or popup (I got a window using Firefox) that will help you proceed further in creating your own RSS feed. Here's some helpful information from the Blinkx RSS popup window page:
    You can subscribe to this RSS feed in a number of ways, including the following:
  • Drag the orange RSS button into your News Reader
  • Drag the URL of the RSS feed into your News Reader
  • Cut and paste the URL of the RSS feed into your News Reader
If you're not sure what RSS is and how it can help you, you might want to read What is RSS? as a quick primer.

Summary of Blinkx

I found Blinkx easy and fun to use, what with all the blinking video clips on both the front and results page (warning - if you don't have high speed access, you probably don't want to visit Blinkx). The only beef that I had was that most of my results for kid-related queries were definitely NOT family friendly, so as always, I recommend that families use my Safe Search Checklist for ways to ensure that Junior doesn't see something he's not supposed to see.

Note: Search engines change frequently, so the information in this article can and will get outdated as more information or features about video search engine Blinkx are released. Be sure to check About Web Search for more updates as they become available.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.