Below, you will find a dialogue between Justin and Justina, two unusual-yet-similarly-named friends who should be familiar to New Leaf Journal readers. In this thrilling snapshot of their peculiar friendship, Justina sates that she will “Google” something. This sparks a lecture from Justin. Can Justin convince Justina to use DuckDuckGo or an alternative to Google for her searches? Stay tuned to find out.

Image of a magnifying glass focusing light on twigs to start a fire from E.H. Kreps' 1919 book "Woodcraft"
This image, clipped from E.H. Kreps’ “Woodcraft” (1919) vaguely symbolizes what Justin does to himself (in the name of a good deed!) in the dialogue.

Act I: Let Me Google That

Justina: Are you sure about that?
Justin: I am sure. The platypus is venomous.
Justina: I don’t want to get this wrong. Let me Google it just to make sure.
Justin: Stop right there.
Justina: What? I’m just checking. Are you doubting yourself?
Justin: Google isn’t a verb.
Justina: …Who cares? Everyone says “Google” it.
Justin: “Everyone.” That’s precisely the problem. Google is a multinational tech conglomerate dealing in your personal data. It’s so big and terrible because of everyone.
Justina: Whatever. I’m just going to Google venomous mammals on my Macbook.
Justin: You should try DuckDuckGo instead.
Justina: Duck Duck what?
Justin: GOOSE!
Justina: (Snort) I see what you did there.
Justin: But DuckDuckGo is a search engine. Duck, duck, goose is you.
Justina: I think you’re the goose.
Justin: No you are.

Act II: Google Says You’re Right

Justina: I Googled it. You’re right. The platypus is venomous.
Justin: I know I’m right. But this isn’t how I wanted you to learn the truth.
Justina: Why do I need another search thingy? Google came with my browser.
Justin: That’s how it starts.
Justina: And it works.
Justin: That’s what they want you to think.
Justina: Been forced to use Bing before. I prefer Google.
Justin: Bing has its problems too. But you know, a diverse search diet is important.
Justina: Why?
Justin: You don’t want Google to be your sole portal to information on the internet. Furthermore, why not use a search engine that isn’t monetizing your searches for its own benefit?
Justina: Hang on, checking my Instagram so I can feel bad about my life and me as a person before we continue.
Justin: We already had that dialogue!
Justina: Done. I saw a few women I haven’t talked to in years and they looked happy. Yet here I am with you. I feel awful. Continue.
Justin: You’ll feel better when you try some new search engines.
Justina: I doubt that.

Act III: The New Leaf Journal List

Justin: Nick made a great list of alternative search engines. You can choose one from there.
Justina: Why are there so many!?
Justin: Because people are clamouring for alternatives to the Google dystopia.
Justina: I’m too lazy to read about these and figure out the differences. Why would I? I could just Google them.
Justin: There you go again.
Justina: I just Googled that. You quoted Ronald Reagan, didn’t you? See? Google works great.
Justin: Yes, but you can get results and break out of Google’s search bubble with a search engine that does not profile you.
Justina: Ok fine. I’ll humor you. Tell me what I should use.
Justin: You can try a variety of search engines on Wutsearch.

Screenshot of Jeff Starr's Wutsearch search engine launchpad on the Brave web browser.
Screen capture of Wutsearch.

Justina: Too lazy.
Justin: Alright, I’ll give you a rundown and you can come up with ridiculous reasons to reject them.
Justina: Sounds fun. I’m ready.

Act IV: DuckDuckGo vs Google

Justin: The most popular non-big tech search engine here is DuckDuckGo.
Justina: I do like staying up with the trends.
Justin: 3% of U.S. searches are made with DuckDuckGo.
Justina: So Google is the trend?
Justin: You want to be with the niche trend to be cool.
Justina: Hmm.
Justin: DuckDuckGo’s regular search results come mainly from Bing. Occasionally from Yandex. Has a solid instant answers feature. You can use “bangs” to use other search engines from DuckDuckGo.
Justina: Including Google!?
Justin: …Yes.
Justina: Maybe this isn’t bad.
Justin: Also Amazon.
Justina: Nice!
Justin: Ugh. Difficult.
Justina: I don’t want to hear about being difficult from you.
Justin: Full-featured. Uses maps from Apple. Shopping, et cetera.
Justina: What was that about Bing? I don’t like Bing.
Justin: The index is fine. You can learn the syntax and use bangs when you need to compare returns for a query – and I think using multiple search sources is wise. Although there are occasionally problems with relying on a big tech search index.
Justina: I just can’t get past the name.
Justin: It’s charming!
Justina: How could I tell my friends that I’m using DuckDuckGo? I can’t. Uncool. Veto.
Justin: I have a solution for you then…
Justina: Uh oh.

Act V: Swisscows vs Google

Justin: Swisscows!
Justina: Is this some kind of joke?
Justin: It’s a privacy-friendly search engine located in Switzerland. Great branding. Also relies on Bing’s index. Has its own instant answer features.
Justina: I mean cows are nice.
Justin: Another feature that would be great for you. It’s a family friendly search engine. Will protect you from adult content.
Justina: Excuse me.
Justin: I don’t want your mind to be warped by the terrible debauchery out there on the internet.
Justina: I’m not a child. I can look at whatever I want.
Justin: That’s exactly what a child who wants to be seen as an adult would say.
Justina: That’s exactly what a Justin would say.
Justin: You probably still believe in turkeys.
Justina: Turkeys exist!
Justin: Kids.
Justina: Anyway. No family-friendly! Next!

Act VI: Qwant vs Google

Justin: How about Qwant?
Justina: What did you call me?
Justin: Qwant is kind of like DuckDuckGo. Very similar features. More French.
Justina: French? France is cool.
Justin: Right. You could be using a cool French search engine. Its logo even looks sort of like Google’s!
Justina: But what if my friends made fun of me for using a French search engine?
Justin: Come again?
Justina: I mean I love this country.
Justin: Of course. That’s why you want to use a privacy-friendly search engine that best respects our founding principles.
Justina: Made in America. Needs to be made in America.
Justin: You know France contributed a great deal to the founding. Do you reject the Statue of Liberty? That also came from France.
Justina: Wait? Really? Let me Google that.
Justin: Try Qwant!
Justina: You’re right! Google says you’re right again.
Justin: …You knew that the Statue of Liberty came from France, didn’t you?
Justina: Yes. That was revenge for the pizza chart two weeks ago.
Justin: Well-played…
Justina: Thanks.

Act VII: Peekier vs Google

Justin: If you want a true made-in-the-USA alternative, try Peekier.
Justina: The owl mascot is cute!
Justin: When you search on Peekier, the results show up as thumbnail images of the website.
Justina: I like the owl!
Justin: So you can prview the webpage without actually navigating to it.
Justina: I saved a picture of the owl. So cute.
Justin: Are you going to try Peekier!?
Justina: What’s that?
Justin: You’re impossible.
Justina: You’re one to talk.

Act VIII: Startpage vs Google

Justin: How about Startpage?
Justina: I already made Facebook my start page. You’re not convincing me to give that up. I can’t give up the rush of misery I feel every time I look at my timeline.
Justin: Startpage is a Netherlands-based search engine partially owned by a U.S. adtech company. Still privacy-friendly though. What’s more, it uses Google results.
Justina: So it’s Google with privacy?
Justin: Yes. No tracking or personalization.
Justina: No personalization!?
Justin: Right.
Justina: But I get along so well with Google!
Justin: Google just wants your information.
Justina: He can have it if he keeps showing me the best date spots.
Justin: You’re impossible.
Justina: You’re one to talk.

Act IX: Other Alternatives to Google

Justin: There are other alternatives, but I think you’re a lost cause.
Justina: You never know.
Justin: Mojeek uses its own index, but still lacks some features.
Justina: I need features.
Justin: Brave Search also has its own index, but I haven’t had a chance to try it much yet.
Justina: I’m not your guinea pig!
Justin: Pumtake is.
Justina: Oh yeah. How’s he doing?
Justin: Good.
Justina: Good.
Justin: You don’t care about the trees right?
Justina: Not really no.
Justin: Ecosia out then.

Act X: Justina Discovers Yandex

Justina: While I was pretending to listen to you, I found this search engine called Yandex. Pretty cool! Good results, full-featured, and its image search is great.
Justin: …
Justina: Why didn’t you tell me about this?
Justin: I mean… it’s Russian Google. Google, but Russian. Same problems, just Russian instead of American.
Justina: Nick wrote about it too!
Justin: Well… he wrote about its webmaster tools. I’m not sure this is what I set out to accomplish…
Justina: I’m downloading their web browser. Looks great.
Justin: The full Yandex suite huh?
Justina: Going to give it a spin.
Justin: I wasn’t going to even bother with Searx, but I mean you can get Yandex results in a better way with that.
Justina: All in on Yandex now. Thanks Justin. I should have listened to you sooner.
Justin: You didn’t listen to me!
Justina: Translate too!
Justin: Well… it does have the best reverse image search.