CNN reports that Anna Patterson — the brain behind Google's 2004 search engine upgrade — has banded together with her friends to create a new service that she feels will supercede the beast with all its shortcomings.

The project, named "Cuil", is backed by $33m in venture capital and opened for business this morning. Ms Patterson believes that, amongst other things, the fact that Google's look-and-feel hasn't changed significantly in ten years is not beneficial, so she's come up with a new interface and a new way of displaying results.

Cool idea. However, upon taking the service for a spin, I immediately missed that most blessed of Google's features: the one which removes (or at least hides) similar sites from its index. As it turns out, having the biggest number of sites indexed doesn't necessarily give you the best search service when there are so many cloning/mirroring sites out there. So far I'm on page 10 for my name and I'm still seeing the same random blog comment returned over and over again, recorded by Cuil's indexer from the gazillion sites that mirrored the article in question.

So, Cuil. Brave? Yes. A good idea? Yes. Nice layout? Yes. Is it refreshing to see someone tackle the search monster head-on with a realistic attempt? Absolutely.

But is it actually useful? Maybe not. And to be honest, I enjoy the simplicity of Google's results page. Perhaps there's a good reason that it hasn't changed in ten years.