Blekko, Crowdsourcing, Curation and the Future of Search
Google knows that it has a problem. As the Internet continues to accumulate more and more information, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort and prioritize that information in a way that provides optimal relevance for each individual user. Until recently, Google’s search algorithm had done a great job keeping all this data organized. However, there are those who have found ways to game the system, most notably by engineering content farms full of bogus inbound links. While Google has punished offenders and worked to minimize the effect of content farms on search results, even its vast army of engineers cannot hope to stem the tide of spammers and hackers who work night and day to exploit the world’s most popular search engine.
Enter Blekko. Blekko is a search engine with a twist; instead of relying on algorithms and crawlers to determine all-important search rankings, it has invited users to select themselves which links are most relevant to each individual search, effectively crowdsourcing content selection and curation. Their thinking is simple: Friends make search better. They have a point — it is difficult to think of something that isn’t more fun with companionship. However, will Internet users go to the trouble of hand-selecting important links? The answer seems to be yes. Blekko’s traffic jumped 30 percent in March, and the website handled 50 million queries in April.
Search is growing increasingly more social; it’s why Google wants to compete in the social space so badly. Google has launched their +1 product in an effort to have users provide information about what content is most relevant to them, which Google hopes to pair with social graphs in order to better target search results. They had better move quickly — news broke today that Facebook is the second most-used search engine in Latin America, a trend that is sure to be replicated around the world sooner or later. If users begin to prefer to see what is relevant to their friends over what is relevant to an algorithm, traditional search players must respond in kind or see their market share eaten by Facebook and Blekko.