This is the first entry in a series of reviews of startups that were present at the Next Web 2008 conference.

andUnite is about searching while socialising. The idea is that you do your internet searches through them (they delegate to the search provider of your choice) and your searches get logged to your profile. You can then share these searches with your friends, or everyone (there’s obviously an appropriate permissions model around that).I can immediately see some benefits to this:

  • The social aspect is similar to Twitter, but instead of “What are you doing now” it’s “What are you searching for now”
  • The practical aspect is that you can find out about interesting things from your friends searches
  • Also, you can find what you’re looking for by observing other people’s search strings. I often have to use many permutations of search strin got discover what I’m after, and seeing that a coleague searched for “weird rails activerecord issue” a few days ago can speed up my searches in more than one ways

A drawback is obviously that I may forget to label a search that I intend to be private as such and people find out things I don’t want them to. Another more subtle drawback is that I’m quite used to my Google toolbar whcih gives me plenty of added goodies (suggesting what I may want to be searching for, highlightinh and searching through my search results etc.) and I’m not feeling quite ready to give it up in favour of the IE search bar with andUnite configured as the search provider.

However, I can see how this could be very useful, especially if they add cool things like results rating (if I could see that the people who searched tha exact same search strings I am, found the third link down the most useful one, rather than the one on the top, I would really like that).

Definitely on to keep an eye on.