Searching for the “invisible man”

Of the many people-searching sites out there, Pipl is the only one I’ve come across that differentiates itself by claiming to search the “invisible” or “deep” web.

The deep or invisible web contains data that search engines can’t index or search.  This tends to be either because the data is hidden behind access requirements (eg. password access only) or because the data resides in dynamic databases meaning that you have to visit the site directly and run a search of the database.  These dynamic database  sites “generate a response to your query in the form of a web page which has been created “on the fly”, and the page never existed in webpage format until that moment” (Invisible web:  searching the hidden parts of the internet.  Paul Pedley, 2001).

So what sites does Pipl consider as being invisible or deep web?  Well, they let you know in your results, by putting “deep web” next to the sources that they consider to be just that.  Sites such as Hoovers, 192.com and Findmypast.

But this isn’t the only feature that might make Pipl one of the more interesting people-searching sites.  It also  helpfully groups the results into categories such as Personal Profiles, Business & Professional, Archives, Publications, Webpages, and so on, instead of just one long list of names.

Finally, in a slight variation on the theme, they also have a beta site for searching businesses and organisations, which suggests that they have ambitions.

How disruptive this will be to the world of people-searching, time will tell, but certainly one to watch.

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