13 Jun 2007

nmkforum2007: human powered search?

There are no tags 2 comments

Calacanis Jason Calacanis, the first speaker at the NMK Forum 2007, kicks off his presentation by asking “What can you do if you disagree with the place your website appears in the google or other search results?” Well, nothing. And that, Calacanis thinks, is what started the whole Search Engine Optomisation industry that basically exists to game google’s algorythms. In fact, Calacanis says, the lack of any arbitration in search results is leading to the declining relevance of search results – just as spam has ruined email and splogs are ruining technorati.

Kevin Anderson writes, over on Strange Attractor:

“At the NMK Forum in London, Jason Calacanis has just announced Mahalo Greenhouse, part of the recently launched Mahalo human-assisted search directory. The Greenhouse will allow the public to add search results and, if accepted by the site’s guides, get paid for them…Jason’s thinking is that Reuters, AP and DowJones employ hundreds of people to write editorial content, why not employ 100 people to curate search.”

Anyone who feels agrieved by their placement (or absence) in Mahalo’s results can discuss that placement on Mahalo’s forum and Maholo is inviting users to help populate the index of sites, paying them for those efforts. Great, but other than those two details, it seems to me that Mahalo’s model was pretty much lifted from Yahoo, circa 1995: users submit sites to a group of editors who decide whether or not to include the site in the index.

Not so revolutionary then. But having humans involved in the process of determining what does and doesn’t go into the index seems a reasonable way of keeping spam from ruining the results. If, that is, we can – as Euan Semple pointed out in his question at the end of Calacanis’ presentation – trust the “under employed editors in Santa Monica” and their judgements.

Cybersoc by Robin Hamman
With over 13 years of professional experience in the digital and social media industry, and a client portfolio that includes some of the World's most recognisable brands and organisations, I've built a reputation internationally as a leading practitioner in the industry.


  • By David Brake / 13 Jun 2007 /

    I too profess myself baffled at this attempt to reinvent the wheel. There is, after all, The Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) already which it seems to me tries to accomplish much the same thing (and ran into some of the same problems of spam and other less than ideal user behaviour that other Web 2.0 projects suffer from)

  • By Robin Hamman / 14 Jun 2007 /

    They got funding for it…
    oh, and I nearly ended up walking off with Jason’s laptop at the end of the day (misguided good samaratan) but returned it to it’s rightful owner before he noticed it gone – sorry about that Jason!

About Robin Hamman

I've been helping some of the World's most widely recognised brands and organisations devise and implement strategic digital and social media programmes since 1999.

I'm currently the EMEA Digital Network Lead at Fleishman Hillard. I've previously held a variety of roles including Managing Director of Dachis Group Europe, Director of Digital at Edelman, Head of Social Media at Headshift, Acting Editor of the BBC Blogs and Executive Producer at ITV.

In addition to my day job, I help my wife run an online retail business selling wool blankets - if you're feeling chilly, check out JustSheep.co.uk

I hold a BA in Education, MA in Sociology, MPhil in Communication Studies and a PgDip in Law. I've also been a Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford University Law School and a Visiting Fellow of Journalism at City University, London.

Why cybersoc.com? In 1995, I tried to register, for the purposes of researching "ordinary users", the username Cybersociologist on AOL. They truncated my name and I stuck with it....

Published Under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License