In this new media world, Jeff Jarvis thinks that “everyone” can provide the necessary checks and balances to the conscious or unconscious editorial bias on Mahalo’s edited search page results. He calls the idea of an Ombudsman very Old Media.
There’s a sense in which Mahalo is very old media. It employs editors to filter the Web and determine what’s important and what’s not. It’s not a Wiki and it’s not a UseNet Group— the public can suggest editorial content, but the editors make the decisions. Mahalo appears to be structured like a Wiki, but it’s operated by paid professionals on our behalf.
Jason Calacanis commented recently that Mahalo wasn’t a product built for the leading edge of users. It’s a service that aims for the early majority, not the innovators and early adopters. This is one of the reasons that leaving the task of challenging editorial bias to “everyone” probably won’t work.
Of course, challenging editorial bias on Mahalo only becomes an issue if the company and the service is successful. If Mahalo itself is in the margin in the world of Web search then the Web itself provides the counter argument.