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AltaVista Launches 'Prisma'

Search engine AltaVista, aiming to keep up with advancing search technologies like that of Ask Jeeves' Teoma, launched its Prisma technology, which provides a 360-degree spectrum of associated words, phrases, names and concepts related to a query.

And Mountain View, Calif.-based Google inked a deal with the AT&T Worldnet Service to provide its search technology for the Worldnet home page.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based AltaVista, a unit of CMGI , said its Prisma technology helps people find relevant Web sites, news stories, audio, video and image files, narrowing search results while revealing parallel topics and other paths of inquiry.

When a query is entered, Prisma scans the text of the most relevant Internet search results to select the 12 most strongly associated words, phrases, names or concepts, called "AltaVista Prisma terms."

The terms are displayed in a clickable, interactive panel immediately below the search box on the search results page. When a user clicks on a particular Prisma term, that term is automatically appended to the original search term and a new search takes place -- returning yet a second-tier of Prisma terms, and so on.

The Prisma technology currently returns terms from English language pages only and is not apparent on the AltaVista site until a search is conducted. Each AltaVista Prisma term is also followed by hyper-linked chevrons ( >>) that allow a new search on that term - perhaps taking the search in a direction that may be more relevant.

The complete set of relevancy-ranked Web results still appears below the AltaVista Prisma terms. The company said that prior to launch, it ran a successful beta-test of Prisma with a random three percent of AltaVista.com users under the name "AltaVista Paraphrase."

Meanwhile, search operation Google said that its deal with AT&T Worldnet includes a provision that lets Worldnet subscribers see targeted online advertisements from Google's AdWords Select advertisers. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Google also has deals with America Online, Earthlink, Yahoo! and its international properties, Sony and its affiliates, and Cisco Systems.