Search on the web is in a lot of pain right now. Content, including enormous amounts of user generated videos, audio files and test, is exploding at an exponential rate. There are over 31 millions blogs, including this one, growing at 70,000 per day. I don’t know about any of you, but I have grown increasingly disappointed with the search results I am getting from the engines. It has become particularly poor in the past 6 months.
The beauty of Web 2.0, the social web, is that anyone can have a
voice on the internet. There is almost no friction to creating and
publishing text, video and audio. A number of companies, like Revver, Tagworld…disclosure: both affiliated portfolio companies…, Myspaces, Flickr and Veoh, democratize the creation, publication and promotion of media. Blogs give the individual voice. They also are giving the search engines headaches.
The next generation of search solutions is attacking this problem from different angles. Strategies range from collaborative tagging approaches like del.icio.us to hybrid algorithmic/tagging technologies like Wink. In each case, they are trying to add intelligence to the process, often supplied by human intervention versus automated indexing using spiders.
One service I love is Pandora. It does an incredible job digging into the "musical DNA" of a given song or genre and intelligently picks similar songs for listening. It does a much better job than any other preferential technology or service I have come across. Its developers have analyzed over 400,000 songs from
15,000 artists and categorized them across 400 musical
traits. Scaling the Pandora model has taken significant effort since much of the cataloging is done by their trained listeners. Brian Quinton has a great posting that describes the Pandora service.
Riya is another amazing company. Once you have uploaded your photos to its site, using facial recognition technology, it will auto-tag/identify individuals in your photographs. While Pandora leverages a "man in the loop", Riya’s technology is automated. It has an incredibly impressive hit rate.
People are eagerly embracing the next wave of the internet and the self-expression it brings. However, they are also crying out for better solutions to help them find what they want, when they want it. There are going to be significant opportunities for companies that can bring intelligence and relevance back to the search process. It looks like Pandora’s Box has been opened.