Thank you Mahalo
If you’re like me and come across an article or news item about search engines, you quickly skip to the next thing. After all, Google’s already got that sorted, right? Why worry about two-bit wannabes?
So, when I came across a blog post in TechRepublic called Sanity check: Can Mahalo save us from Google, Digg, and Wikipedia? I smiled at what was obviously a provocative title (that’s polite for “cheap trick”) and started moving on. But… the post kept getting more and more interesting; blogger Jason Hiner kept getting more and more persuasive.
His basic point is that Google is great for problem solving but not that hot for information gathering.
Intrigued, the next step was to check out Mahalo (“thank you” in Hawaiian), a human search engine in beta from the controversial Jason Calacanis. Mahalo’s “goal is to hand-write and maintain the top 50,000 search terms.”
Jason Hiner had based his article on doing a search for “WiMAX” across Google, Wikipedia, and Mahalo. I did the same by first searching for OpenID and immediately saw his point.
Right at the top it says “Also try: Yahoo OpenID” and then gave seven links that were spot on. It also had well laid out Guide Note, News, Criticisms, Blogs and Commentaries, Related Searches, and User Recommended Links.
Good stuff for people in information gathering mode.
Contrast that with the Google search for OpenID which suddenly started looking to be a bit of a scattergun result.
What Mahalo is trying to do is of course not unique. Ask tried and failed to scale the model. Yahoo! Answers is another approach to human-assisted search services while Google’s Knol is yet another twist.
It is still early days for Mahalo but I think it’s worth keeping an eye on. Even if the search term you are looking for isn’t one that Mahalo’s editors have covered, such as SAML, it caters for the long tail by displaying results from Google with tabs for other search engines, YouTube, Del.icio.us, etc.
Anyone surprised that OpenID is covered but not SAML or Liberty Alliance?