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Business - Written by on Thursday, November 13, 2008 22:33 - 1 Comment

Reference Extract: Just like Google, if all Google’s results were decided by librarians

Last week, Denis wrote an insightful post on the wisdom of crowds vs. uniquely qualified minds. In it, he argued that,

If you work through all the examples of “wikinomics in action” in the book and on this blog, some of them are about harnessing the wisdom of crowds, and others are about attracting uniquely qualified minds. As one would expect, the strategies required for success on one side are very different from the strategies required for success on the other.

Enter, Reference Extract. Currently in development, the project is designed to shake up internet searching by creating a “credibility engine.” The difference between a credibility engine and your granddaddy’s search engine? Unlike Google which is based on, among other things, total number of links to a given page (a more detailed explanation can be found here), Reference Extract will favour pages recommended from a pool of volunteer librarians from 1400 libraries worldwide. Their argument is that a lot of the search results found on mainstream search engines are poor because the results aren’t subjected to any sort of scrutiny. By using a team of experienced and qualified experts, the search results, it’s hoped, will be more accurate and more useful.

It will be interesting to see the long term implications of this project. Will the trusted-expert concept be enough to steer people away from Google (or Yahoo and MSN for that matter)? Or is “googling it” so ingrained in our internet experience that there isn’t room for one more search engine? Perhaps we’ll see Reference Extract become a specialty search engine that caters to clientele who require an added degree of certainty in their searching – journalists, I’m looking in your direction.

The idea of searching smarter is destined to become increasingly important as the amount of information out there continues to expand at breakneck speed. We’re already surrounded by more data than we know what to do with which raises the question: in future, will it make more sense to trust experts to sort out what information is truly relevant? Or are we more than happy to continue to trust Google to be our search engine steady date?

1 Comment

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Nov 14, 2008 21:22

You can use Wikipedia as a search engine and get much the same result by ignoring the article contents and just following the reference links.

Wikipedia tends to censor out any link that is overly controversial, but the librarian brigade will doubtless do the same thing.

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