man vs. machine – the definition of search 2.0

Those who know me know one of the guiding prinicples in my business and product thinking is that automation is king.  I believe that smart automation will always beat out manual processes when automation can be applies.  The thesis has certainly lead to my involement in a series of startups these past few months.

And so it’s interesting to see my fellow silicon alley alum jason calacanis (yes I date back to the early, early, early days of silicon alley – 95-98 and yet I know I’m an old man by startup standards per fred wilson) use a lens from the wayback machine to rollout a manually edited search engine.  To an extent that’s where Yahoo started with a editorially developed internet directory and what google took over with their automated search engine. 

I have no idea whether Mahalo will overcome the challenges of having a manually edited search engine, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt given the success of the weblogs’ coterie of blogs.  Effectively Jason’s applying the same logic from that experience to search – target high traffic concepts with slick editorial and walloh users will come.  It will be interesting to see if it works.  Also what I don’t know yet is what automation and tools will Jason and Co. build in to reduce the burden on the editors.  I am sure more to come on that front.

What’s interesting is that Spock, the search engine for people that as disclosed previously I have a previous affiliation with, is building what I believe to be the most sophisticated automated cataloger of people ever built.  And yet even then, the Spock team knows there will be a limit in its ability to be 100% accurate with regards to the results and identifying too data points as the same person.  Therefore Spock will rely on its users to refine and improve the results.

Maybe the approaches are that different in the end as manually edited with a side of automation vs. automation with a side of manually editing sound like they will likey meet in the middle.  Maybe that’s what search 2.0 really is – not so much vertical search but community improved search.

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