What is wrong with good ol' searching?

Published June 14, 2009

It seems like every five minutes now, there is a new feature to Google, or a new search engine making it’s debut. They all proclaim to be the next big innovation in searching, and some will even revolutionise the way we find information on the web. I have already taken a quick look at Wolfram Alpha, which says it is not trying to be a Google killer.

Mahalo has always been a different kind of search - curated by humans to provide the best and most relevant links for your topic. I have never found it that useful, because if I want YouTube links, I would just go to YouTube. However, the idea behind it was strong, and it’s a surprise to me that it’s changing.

The new model will skew it towards Wikipedia, with curators taking on topics as their very own, and getting paid revenue from how popular the page becomes. You can imagine people making pages, discussing them on social networks, blogging about them, giving Mahalo a lot of coverage, to try and make their topics more popular.

I tried making a Mahalo search page once, and found it a time-consuming and awkward process, but that was a long time ago. The site has many dedicated authors, so the real question is who will use it for information? Rafe Needleman from CNET says past results aren’t clear:

Opinions on Mahalo’s success on this effort so far differ. Calacanis, of course, quotes increasing traffic and engagement results. Most people I talk to, though, don’t see Mahalo results pop up in their daily search engine use and can’t remember the last time they used the site.

Perhaps this is Mahalo’s way of getting out of the search business, because there really is no such thing as the Google killer? Even so, the big G aren’t slowing down. They’ve come up with a new way of searching called Google Squared.

I can’t say I understand the workings of this completely, but the idea is to perform a search and get indexed data returned in a table format, presumably to make comparisons easier.

Google Labs squared screenshot

This looks like their fightback for the knowledge side of the search market, but at the moment it is only a Google Labs feature with seemingly a lot more work to be done on it.

As a final side note, Google Labs has now become it’s own site, instead of just a hidden away sub-section of the main search page. You can even get an RSS feed of the newest updates. This gets a big thumbs up for me.

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