Ambiently on Webtopia Show

July 8th, 2009 by admin No comments »

James Gubbins ( is an “education geek” with a passion for technology and education. He has been on the forefront of implementing technology in the classroom for more than ten years. Recently, he started a weekly ed-tech broadcast called Webtopia which is aired every Sunday on Ustream. Webtopia is aimed to investigate and demonstrate live new and exciting Web 2.0 applications.

James took a look at search engines beyond Google at Webtopia Episode 2 session on July 6, 2009. He introduced,, and You can watch the embed episode below.

Many people in education love Ambiently. On April 10, 2009, Mr. Byrne at wrote, “Ambiently could be a very useful web research tool. Instead of jumping back and forth from a search results page, students can just click the Ambient button and have related content right in front of them.”

Thanks James, Byrne, and other active Ambiently users for your interest! We will continue to improve Ambiently to provide better experience for online information finding.

Search Engine + Discovery Engine = Better Web Experience

April 15th, 2009 by Ambiently Team 9 comments »

Since our beta launch last week, we have been overwhelmed by our users’ enthusiasm. We are very encouraged that some of you said you like the value of our service. We are glad to see that Ambiently is useful in your application fields, such as research and education.

Users also want to know more about discovery engines. Quite often, after seeing the difference between a search engine and a discovery engine, users wonder which engine is a better tool for finding information on the web.

The Berrypicking Model of Information Finding

To answer the question, let’s take a look at the actual process of information finding on the web. Back in 1989, before the web was known to us, Marcia Bates of UCLA proposed a famous model for our information finding process: berrypicking.

Using the analogy of picking berries in a patch, Professor Bates believed that the information-seeking process is iterative and interactive. Finding information on the web is a journey: users start with a search query, check out what they get, modify the query, and continue.

Search and Discovery

Therefore, the best tools should always serve us along this journey. Today’s search engines like Google and Yahoo! play an indispensable role in our daily lives because they provide good starting points. Facing the sea of web information, everyone needs a search engine at hand all the time.

What a discovery engine does is work with a search engine for the rest of the information-seeking journey. It works best when you are already in the “neighborhood” of a webpage of relevant information. When you pick a big ripe blueberry on a bush, very likely there will be many more around! This is something unique about a discovery engine, something it might be doing better than a search engine.

Continuing Improvements

While users are excited about finding unexpected and useful new web sources via Ambiently, we clearly know that this is just the beginning. We have tons of work to do to improve the quality of ambient links on many, many ambient pages.

Sometimes you may notice that ambient links on an ambient page are not relevant. This is caused by a combination of many factors: the data structure of the original webpage, the data Ambiently can get from that site, the current scope/capability of our algorithms and rules, and the limitation of our foreign language support, among others.

Currently, Ambiently is in its public beta trial period. We are working hard to improve our service every day. In this process, we are eager to hear feedback and suggestions from you.

Further Readings

Berrypicking Your Way Through Search

Finding Interesting Information on the Web: It’s Not Just for Search Engines Anymore

Memex: Ambiently

Ambiently: Like a Search Engine, but Cooler.

The image we use for this post was taken by Mike McCune, view it on Flickr.

What are the differences between Ambiently and a search engine?

March 29th, 2009 by Ambiently Team 8 comments »

Most obviously, Ambiently is simpler than a search engine. On a search engine, you need to think of a good query and type it into a search box. Using Ambiently, all these steps are unnecessary. With Ambiently, all you need to do is to click a button. That action leads to a list of web links related to the current webpage. In other words, every webpage now is a automated “search engine.”

One of the biggest problems with today’s search is that we often know roughly what we want, but cannot easily get the right query. Sometimes, our need is broader than a simple query can describe. With Ambiently, there is no such need. You get relevant web information by one click.

Using a search engine, you get web links related to your query. However, you get web links related to the webpages you are reading, viewing, or enjoying. As the noted author Peter Morville said, the future of search will be “a future where search and browsing work together.” Ambiently is doing just that.

How do you use Ambiently?

March 29th, 2009 by Ambiently Team 10 comments »

From any webpage you are viewing, one click on a toggle button takes you to an “ambient page.” That ambient page displays a list of relevant webpage links. Usually these links are related to the current webpage. You scan this page and check out listed webpages, just like using a search results page.

No matter if you are happy or not with the current webpage, you can go to its ambient page to see more related webpage links. It is an easy way to find interesting information.

When you are on the ambient page, one click on the toggle button switches you back to the current webpage.

Hello world! Ambiently is coming!

February 10th, 2009 by Ambiently Team 11 comments »

Welcome to Ambiently’s blog. This is our first post!

Ambiently is a web discovery engine. While a search engine answers your query with a list of web links, a discovery engine provides you with relevant web links directly from any webpage you are on.

These web links will lead you to webpages related to the page you are viewing, help you find more new information, and even surprise you with unexpected useful web resources.

Ambiently is a startup company, developing web discovery engine applications. Envisioning the broad usage and benefits of creating a page-centric “ambient web” for every page on the web, Ambiently aims to create a new, richer web browsing and search experience for all web users.