Humans Search Better

Who’d have thunk it? An article in Wired Magazine entitled “Algorithms Are Terrific. But to Search Smarter, Find a Person.” notices the growing trend of search firms using real meat-space residents to fine tune their results rather than relying on algorithms. The dirty little secret: algorithms can be gamed while humans are tougher to fool.

Personally, I’ve been using Mahalo, Jason Calacanis’ new company and I am really liking what I see. The results are pertinent, and spam/splogger free. Give it a shot and you’ll see what I mean.

The vogue for human curation reflects the growing frustration Net users have with the limits of algorithms. Unhelpful detritus often clutters search results, thanks to online publishers who have learned how to game the system. Users have tired of clicking through to adware-laden splogs posing as legitimate resources. And unless you get your keywords just right, services like Google Alerts spew out either too much relevant content — or not enough.

Even with armies of paid contributors, however, the curators can’t cover Google-scale territory. They’ve had to make tough choices about resource allocation, opting to focus on topics and sources with the most mainstream appeal. Mahalo, for example, has plenty of curated listings dedicated to videogame cheats or Page Six celebrities, but it defaults to Google search results for topics like UAVs or Russian nesting dolls.

True, some of my more arcane searches don’t get the results I’d hoped for, but for much or what I need, the spam free goodness is there. Get ahead of the curve and give it a shot.