By archive August 28, 2007
There’s nothing wrong with being a self-promoter. More power to him in that regard. He’s taken the tools that the Web 2.0 world affords him and along with his existing connections (critically important because this would rarely work for a geek in Nebraska) has leveraged that into becoming one of the most-followed bloggers on the web. If you ever want to read about the latest pie-in-the-sky hype on Facebook or the iPhone, he’s your man. But he’s definitely out there.
It’s ironic that you commented on this because I was also following the brouhaha yesterday and even forwarded the events on to another poster here. I wasn’t sure if it was blog-worthy, but since you commented on it and solicited my opinion . . .
I think Danny Sullivan actually does an excellent (and entertainingly emotional) job of pointing out exactly why human-powered search, even leveraging the growing “social graph” (a stoner-sounding buzzword I’m personally ready to see die) will never be able to adequately replace computer-driven, algorithmic search. Scalability is of course the first issue that obviously rears its head. Timeliness is another. The two can co-exist and overlap, but one will never entirely replace the other. Rather than getting too detailed I’ll just say check out Danny’s article or SEOmoz’s article.
As for his mention of Jason Calicanis’ Mahalo . . . wow, one self-promoter in the Silicon Valley inner-circle talking about another self-promoter in the Silicon Valley inner-circle. There’s a shocker. The irony is, for all of Calicanis’ bluster about SEO, Mahalo’s entire business model is basically just one blatantly huge SEO gambit – setup a bunch of keyword-rich link pages on the most popular search queries to try to position yourself as an intermediary/authority site that will in turn rank well in Google for all these searches . . . which of course means gobs of free traffic which you then try to monetize on the backend with ads . . . ironically Google’s. You can’t fault Calicanis for seeing this business model given how pervasive sites like Digg and Wikipedia are in the Google search results. But Google also has a policy of not wanting to deliver search results within Google’s search results. And since all Mahalo basically is is search results then there could be a bit of a problem for Mahalo whenever Google gets serious about enforcing that rule.
At the end of the day I think it’s all really just a tempest in a tea cup. Barring a massive influx of Facebook-like hype, Mahalo will likely follow the path of every other human-powered search engine and eventually fail . . . or just keep turning over enough money to stay afloat. Techmeme, while highly entertaining for reading about emerging stories, is also a great example of the inordinate amount of attention and nepotism that goes on between the tech blogging community’s inner-circle. If you’re inside that circle you’ll benefit from massive cross-promotions and inter-linking. But if you’re outside that circle you’re SOL (at least compared to the inner-circle.)
Facebook on the other hand is obviously a rising star at the moment. The hype has reached Apple-like levels with all sorts of wild rumors and theoretical potential being bandied about. A lot of it feels a bit 1999-ish to me, but I think the site clearly has some staying power. As a threat to Google and search in general though? No. They’re having a hard enough time monetizing their massive audience with behavioral-targeted ads.