May 30, 2007

Mahalo - Human Powered Search

Mahalo Logo

Mahalo's Alpha site launched today providing hand curated search results for 4000 most frequent web searches. According to Jason Calacanis, founder and CEO of the new company, "Mahalo's goal is to hand-write the top 10,000 search terms" by end of the year.

The home page looks like somewhat like an early version of Yahoo (but prettier) with a prominent logo, search box and category headings and subheadings with the addition of small pictures beside each category.

Mahalo believes that humans can make search results better and this is a claim that most librarians would not dispute one bit.

Take a look at Mahalo for yourself and something like the Harry Potter page. Notice how they're breaking out and identifying content chunks: The Mahalo Top 7, Recent News, Articles and Features, Books Timeline, Films Timeline, Images and Videos, Merchandise and DVDs, Fansites, Message Boards and Blogs, Fun Stuff and Related Searches.

Someone has put a lot of thought into this structure and the usability. The clean design and prominent subheadings makes it quick to scan and zero in on the good stuff.

They are in ALPHA stage and asking for feedback so tell them what you think.

I have one minor quibble. Mahalo claims on their site that they are "the world's first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides". Hmm, first?

Mahalo has extensive backing by venture capitalists and if Mahalo can achieve the same trust and credibility of Wikipedia and Squidoo pages their goal to dominate with hand crafted search results may indeed come to pass whether people search them directly or find them prominently on search engine results.

Just in case you were wondering Mahalo means thank you in Hawaiian.

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It's all in the wording. Yahoo's directory and the ODP would count as earlier examples, but once you add "powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides," with a capital G, you can define away any earlier examples. Or, I suppose, claim that ODP and the directory-based Yahoo weren't really search engines.
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