Mahalo, Wikipedia, and Human-Powered Search

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With the Web, there has been a publishing revolution. The barrier to entry has almost been eliminated. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection, can publish there thoughts or creative works. This creates a lot of crap out there. A lot of smart people are trying to figure out how to separate out the wheat from the chaff… the signal from the noise.

Jason Calacanis’ idea is Mahalo. It is a search engine with human powered result sets. He has hired a group of guides which will find reputable sites which correspond to a specific search term. If the guides haven’t put together a result set for that keyword, it defaults to Google.

While this is clever and interesting, I think this is hardly revolutionary.

One of the biggest things I like about Wikipedia is the External Links section down on the very bottom of most topic pages. For example, you go to the Wikipedia baseball page at the very bottom there is a large set of Baseball links in the External Links section.

A lot of times I will go to a topics Wikipedia page just to see what external links are there because they’re usually really reliable and are the primary sources.

Aren’t the Wikipedia external links just human-powered search results sets? Except with this the links are vetted by the world and not just Jason Calacanis’ search guides.

Human powered search is great if you’re only playing with the fat head of search queries. What about the long tail? Mahalo doesn’t have results when I look for more obscure things.

I don’t think the future is the “wisdom of the masses” or the wisdom of a few Mahalo search guides. The future of search is what I like to call “the wisdom of your friends.” It is my buddy saying hey “go check out this site.”

I know my friends. I know what their expertises are and what their interests are. I know who trust in some ares and not the others.

I’m thinking out loud (well in a blog). Does any of this make sense?