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Decentralization of Search: Mahalo

Google has been good enough forever. Or at least, ‘forever’ in Internet time. But then Wikipedia came along. More often than not, the thing you’re searching for was on Wikipedia. Google served the purpose of providing a link to Wikipedia. (Google is easier to spell than Wikipedia.)

Search on the Web is decentralizing into separate reference books. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia—and it fills that role so much better than any printed book. This brings us to Mahalo, Jason Calacanis’s new project. The search engine results pages returned by Mahalo are more usable and useful to most users than a Google results page. Mahalo addresses why people search for things and responds to that. (Ask Jeeves used to do something like this)

Google provides an invaluable service of providing a kind map to the vast territory of the Internet. It also substitutes for remembering URLs, it’s a good way to create clickable links. About.com has tried to be the How to reference for the Web. In my opinion, their usability is poor. They need to rethink and redesign based on what users want. They seem to have been designed based on what advertisers want.

Mahalo results pages are edited by people. If I was going to provide a list of links about a topic to someone, a Mahalo page would be much more useful than a Google page. Mahalo has a small number of pages at this point in time, but as the build their inventory they will become more and more useful. The one problem Mahalo will have is that they’ll need to update pages and links to stay in tune with the times. If they can develop a user base willing to tell them what needs to be updated, and suggest the appropriate update, that problem will be less onerous.

I wonder if my fingers will learn to type ‘Mahalo’ as easily as they now type ‘Yahoo‘ and ‘Google.”

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