Software

Mahalo.com: Human powered search engines making a comeback?

Another new human powered engine has just arrived. Mahalo.com, the brainchild of Jason Calacanis (the man behind Weblogs Inc.) presents search results that are polished and refined by a group of editors.

"Google's mission is to index the world's information; our mission is to curate that wonderful index," explained Calacanis. "It is my belief that humans can play a significant role in the development of search results, and we are going to figure out exactly what that role is over the next couple of years. I am looking forward to hearing what people think of the alpha." (Excerpt from article at iTNews)

About.com, Ask Jeeves, Go Guides, Yahoo directories, Yahoo Answers, and Digg have already use "people power" to return better search results in the past. It is in scalability that algorithms beat human power. As of now, Mahalo.com indexes polished results for about 4,000 popular keywords and plans rope in more editors and scale up to about 10,000 keywords.

More detailed news links:

Mahalo launches with Human crafted serch results (SearchEngineLand)

Mahalo search engine relies on human decisions, not machine-driven algorithms (Associated Press)

New search engine adds human touch to info gathering (Mercury News)

On Mahalo and the role of human-powered directories in Internet searching (Pandia Search Engine News)

Other major start-ups in the search engine space that are garnering attention are:

  • Hakia: A San Francisco start-up that is developing "natural language" technologies that aims to absorb the human nuances of a user's query.
  • Cha-Cha: Another human powered search engine that employs "guides" to guide users via chat sessions to find relevant links.
  • Powerset: A New York based start-up that leverages Natural Language Processing and is due to debut later this year.
  • TextDigger: A San Jose based start-up that's deploying Semantic Search Technology.

Read these articles for more information.

Semantic web for masses (Redherring)

Who are the Google Killers? (Inc.com)

It is interesting to note that none of these start-ups aim to immediately dethrone any of the major market leaders in the search space. Another trend that's noticeable is the focus on catering to niche segments. Nonetheless, development in the search space indicates that there's a lot of room for new players and technologies. Remember the days when Google was a start-up and Yahoo was the prolific search medium? Will any of these new engines do the same to Google in future? Join the discussion.

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