Bias is good?

Blekko could be an idea whose time has come. It’s a search engine with bias.

The idea is, you punch in what you’re looking for, and include a slash term to bias the search in a particular direction. That could help filter out spam sites–sites that are loaded with keywords and a few links but no real content, for instance.

But I imagine some significant percentage of its users will use it to try to find content they already agree with.Rupert Murdoch has learned that catering to people who only want to see things they agree with can be lucrative. So I think Blekko will become successful just as soon as Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some other right-leaning pundit tell people how they can search Blekko for anything and append “/conservative” to the end of it.

Personally, I think people should read things they disagree with at least from time to time. You learn more that way. But that seems to be a minority point of view these days.

Early search engines just tried to index everything, and the way they got to the top was by having more of the Web than anyone else. And it wasn’t until Altavista came along that any engine was clearly, demonstrably better than any other.

Google became the most popular search engine, in spite of being very late to the game, by taking a novel approach. They operated on the theory that good content has more sites linking to it than bad content. Google made it a lot easier to find the good, relevant stuff. Sure, it still returns a lot of irrelevant stuff, but before Google, most of it was irrelevant stuff, and the best link could very easily be on page 5.

I won’t say Google will be #1 forever, but they’ve been at the top a lot longer than they weren’t. With every passing year, unseating Google looks less and less likely.

Blekko has a new niche approach, and a realistic goal–being the #3 search engine. If it actually turns out to be effective at weeding out spam, or giving people results they agree with, I think that’s reachable. And I think it only has to be good at one of those things. But now they’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Microsoft, of course, will copy any of the concepts that work and add it to Bing, because that’s what Microsoft does. And Google’s already aped Bing, so they’ll ape Blekko too.

So the first trick is for it to work. The second is to convince people to use it. And the third is to deliver those results better than either of the others. At least they have a head start on stage 1.

%d bloggers like this:
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux