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Can Jimmy Wales Crack the Google Puzzle?

Flush with Wikipedia’s success and obviously not busy enough with Wikia, Jimmy Wales now has ambitious (fooldhardy?) plans to create a new search engine called Wikisaria to take on Google and Yahoo (with some financial assistance from Amazon and a few Silicon Valley investors). “Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Try searching for the term ‘Tampa hotels’, for example, and you will not get any useful results,” Wales told the London Times. (Actually, if you do a Google search of ‘Tampa Hotels” you get some solid results – the first one being Tampa Guide – so perhaps that’s not the best example of what Wales wants to do, as well as a sign his PR folks need to do a better job).

So how is Wikisaria going to be different than Google? Well as Time Magazine made clear earlier this week, Wale is depending on “you”. Huh? Rather than use mathematical algorithms to come up with the best search results, Wales wants to use the Wikipedia model and have humans actively involved in creating the best search results. Sounds a lot like Prefound, et al are trying to do so perhaps Wales has different tactic.

As much as user-generated content was one of the major themes of 2006, Google’s continued dominance of the search market continues to be one of the most compelling elements of the Web’s evolution. What almost as fascinating is there are no lack of people and investors willing to take a crack at building a better mouse trap. Let’s see how Mr. Wales – and Amazon – make out. For more, check out Deep Jive Interests (who believes Wales’ ideas shouldn’t be quickly dismissed), Mathew Ingram, Peter Cashmore and Niall Kennedy.

Update: Just thinking about a comment I made about Wales’ PR people. It’s two days since the news emerged, and the story is still atop Techmeme. Maybe his PR folks knew what they were doing.

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  • Anonymous

    Well, it sounds like a good idea… however, it would take a tremendous amount of man power to keep the results relevant, concise, and free from spam. Something like search results in on a scale way bigger than even the 1.4 million or so English Wikipedia articles.

    Not to mention it would open tons of avenues of point gaming of results to get listed as more relevant than others. At least with an algorithm you can get some what non biased evaluation. People are flawed when it comes to determining wealth for the rest… we really should let the computers do this part.