A9watch, etc.

News, reviews, and commentary about A9.com, other new search technologies, and related topics. Send news, inquiries, and rants to randalldotnewton atgmaildotcom. Subscribe at http://feeds.feedburner.com/A9watchEtc.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A Search Engine By Any Other Name

What does A9 mean? It depends on whom you ask.

We tried the official route, and sent an email to Alison Diboll, A9.com’s official media rep: “Really it's just an eye-catching name.”

Next we went to the search engines (where else?) to see what the blogs were saying. At Christian Lindholm’s blog we found a link to a WIRED Magazine article about A9’s Ubi Manber, who led the development of Amazon.com’s Search Inside the Book before moving on to A9. “About the name A9,… [Ubi] Manber, … came up with the name by running a simple compression algorithm on the word “algorithms.” Algorithms begins with “A” and is followed by nine other letters. When Manber explains the name to me, he notes mischievously that another word can be identically compressed: Alexandria.”

In a Web Exclusive for Business 2.0 magazine, John Battelle interviews Manber about A9 and has a similar explanation: “But A9 -- the name stands for the nine letters in the word "algorithm" -- is a significant evolution.”

If these official and semi-official explanations don’t ring true, there’s plenty of speculation to be found elsewhere. One blogger wrote that A9 must represent the ninth option on the Amazon.com top menu, another that it is Amazon.com’s ninth attempt at a search engine. A third notes that there are nine letters in Amazon.com. The blogosphere is quickly going to become a dog chasing its tail on this one.

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