Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, July 4, 2005

Social Search Is Here: Yahoo Web 2.0 Makes Access To The Web Long Tail Possible

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Yahoo has just released a limited beta of My Web 2.0, its new unique approach to search: personalized, social search. Tapping into the preferences and recommendations of other users, or better yet, of your own social networks can definitely be a strategically intelligent way to take on Google lead and popularity on traditional search.


"Building a global community of knowledge, helping you share what you discover, making it possible to follow the tastemakers." This is what Yahoo Web 2.0 promises to be to its users.

By using the recommendations and preferences from people you know, Yahoo MyWeb lets you instantly tap into the collective intelligence of groups of people having interests similar to yours as well as leveraging the wisdom of the many disintermediated by SEO / SEM marketing techniques or by secret search engine algorithms.

The key difference Between MyWeb and a traditional search engine like Google or MSN Search, is that with My web 2.0 you don't get access just to Web content that has been automatically indexed by a search engine crawler. You get to discover new content filtered and selected by real people like you.

Originally launched in April, Yahoo's MyWeb has just been updated before the weekend to integrate and expand on these unique set of great characteristics.

My Web 1.0, released in April, lets those signed in with a Yahoo account save pages to a "personal Web," rate pages and block them from ever appearing again in search results.

Once you are logged in into the free service you can search through what others in your communities have already selected and saved, as well as tapping into the collective intelligence of what the larger MyWeb community has saved.

With Yahoo's MyWeb, when you find sites that you like, and that you deem reputable or worthwhile referencing, you can immediately act upon them without even needing to fire up a separate browser window (a handy bookmarklet does just that).

Sites can be saved with a simple click and personalized title nd keywords (tags) can be immediately added to it. You the then designate if you want to save the web site only for our personal archive or if you want to let your preference be available to others in your community or even with the total population of Yahoo visitors.

MyWeb can be seen as a new form of personal information management system on the web. It combines a number of new approaches to search that do make a lot of sense to me.

As a matter of fact this is what I and Liz Lawley have been actively suggesting in one of our mini-focus groups we had this last April at the Microsoft Search Champs 2 event.

Basically, we wanted the personalization of search according to your preferences, history and with (optional) extensibility to those others who you trust and respect in your social networks.

Having moved from an ecosystem of information scarcity to one of extreme information surplus our true challenge now is the one of enabling more and more of us to become active filters, hubs, newsmasters and digital information librarians of this knowledge economy.

To take full advantage of MyWeb potential, anyone becomes an automatic marketing and recruiting agent for Yahoo, as you need to set up your own communities, by either signing-up to existing groups or by inviting others to join. To do so you can use e-mail or import contacts from a Yahoo Address Book, from a Yahoo Messenger buddy list or from a Yahoo 360° community.

When using Yahoo MyWeb, what strikes me as being most interesting, is the fact that anyone within the community can influence search relevance in several ways.

Also interesting to note is that the search technology powering Yahoo MyWeb leverages all the recent advances in algorithmic search while combining them with grassroots recommendations stemming from your own social networks or from the general population of MyWeb at large.

According to the Yahoo My Web blog, future features already in the works include:
Groups, where you can, say, share links with just your work group, or friends interested in a common topic

Discussions/comments, where you can talk about each link

Easier, more intuitive invite process.

In addition, Yahoo has already decided to open up MyWeb 2.0 by offering an application programming interface (API), which will make it possible for developers and programmers to create other uses for this new search technology.

N.B.: Among the many comments and reviews that followed Yahoo MyWeb announcement, Danny Sullivan stroke a few valuable points by questioning the appropriateness of tags to achieve two apparently diverging goals.

He writes:

"...the tags are in the impossible position -- one that even Yahoo admits when I talked with them about this -- of trying to do two things at once that aren't compatible. They are:

  • Trying to show the freshest content on a topic
  • Trying to show the best content on a topic


Tagging -- like spontaneity -- has time and a place. For some verticals, as I've written, it may make more sense. That's especially so for relatively little services that aren't going to be spam targets. But tagging web listings in general so far makes me think Yahoo's not going to please anyone.

Stepping Backwards

It gets worse, by the way. Tagging will help you keep all your My Web content you're saving organized, right? But what happens when you've created hundreds of tags for thousands of pages? Are you going to browse pages? Everyone largely abandoned browsing directory categories ages ago because keyword search was like a warp drive to zip you to what you wanted, as I've explained.

If you really do save thousands of pages over time, you're not going to want to rely on tagging to locate things. You'll probably just keyword search. Even more so, that will be essential, as the tags you initially created probably won't hold up as things change over time. Do you retag everything? Chances are, you won't.


In contrast, an alternative would be for Yahoo to experiment with some type of social compilation of its actual directory, similar to what I suggested about an Open Directory alternative last month.

Let me tag the "best" stuff on a particular topic separately from something that's just fresh, new, cool but not the best in the long term.

It would be interesting to see how those two different lists developed."

(Source: Search Engine Watch)

One last thought, I haven't seen written much elsewhere.

MyWeb further equalizes content on the Web while providing easier access to what is likely more relevant. By favoring recommendations, personal selections and affinity to work in favor of everyone, MyWeb gives greater opportunity to find those contents that because of technical, marketing or other web design issues have not ever made it to appear among the top search results on anyone search engine. The Long Tail of the web gets his initial share of opportunity. Like on Amazon or iTunes, I can discover unknown gems thanks to those who have searched and filtered the good from the bad for themselves.

What do you think?

Readers' Comments    
2005-07-04 21:50:25

Gimp Tutorials Wizard

Sounds like a search engine that uses bookmarks of real people to get a clue for the search.

Good luck to Yahoo.

posted by Robin Good on Monday, July 4 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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