NYT on Mahalo and human search…

Nice story in NYT on human search, with some nice coverage of Mahalo.


Some key paragraphs below… thoughts?

  • A hand-built Mahalo search-results page has one conspicuous advantage over Google’s: grouping into subthemes, which make a page of links much easier to scan and to find items of particular interest. For example, Mahalo’s page about Paris Hilton, the site’s top search subject last week, arranges the recommended links into clusters including news, photos, gossip, satire and humor. The use of subject categories also eliminates the need to provide, as Google does, two-line text excerpts from the listed sites to provide clues about the site’s contents.
  • The Mahalo page about Ms. Hilton lists more than 80 sites. Each takes up only one line; grouped by subtheme, they are easier to skim than the 12 sites that fill the entire first page of Google’s search results.
  • All of the links listed in Mahalo send the user to Web pages that contain genuine content, not sales pitches in disguise. By using its own editors as the final arbiters of what goes in, Mahalo cuts off access in its listings to Web sites that confuse a search engine’s algorithm with advertorials that commingle advertisements with noncommercial information. To those in the trade, outsmarting the algorithm is called “search engine optimization.” For the rest of us, it produces Web pages littered with spam.
  • Last week, Mr. Calacanis tried to illustrate how spam has infested some top results on Google. After running searches for “low-carb diets,” “Lasik” and “lingerie” at Google and at Mahalo, he compared the results. The exercise succeeded in exposing a few examples of Web sites ranked highly in Google’s results that contained advertorials or content apparently scraped from higher-quality sites.