Mechanical Hype

I like the idea behind Aardvark. I’m also happy for Mechanical Zoo for securing their future just in time. But to call an IM bot that sends a question to your network social search – well, that’s almost as hype-ish as labeling an advanced bookmarking service as Semantic Web. Search is about smartly tapping a mass of information, where the problem is in finding the right needle in an existing haystack. Aardvark is simply a Q&A site smartly superimposed on the social network.

And nevertheless a clever concept, wishing them success.

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3 responses to “Mechanical Hype

  1. Pingback: Mechanical Hype, revisited « The Alter Egozi

  2. Ofer,

    Thanks for the praise and the thoughtful criticism. In figuring out exactly what we should be building, it hasn’t always been perfectly clear how we should be explaining even what we’ve built. That said, Aardvark isn’t just a QA site with a social element.

    When you send Aardvark a question, a very small number of people (around a half dozen) are selected to answer. These people are chosen based on a variety of factors given who you are and what you are asking. For every candidate responder, there are many variables that might cause them to rank higher or lower relative to other candidate responders. The existing haystack is the network that you’ve already created with hundreds of thousands of friends of friends in it. This network is described in existing sites (most notably FB for now) and the information in our index about people is pulled from existing sources. You have the equivalent of crawl, index, rank, and return going on with variables and algorithms that closely parallel what you see behind a Google or Yahoo search box.

  3. Hey Max, thanks for stopping by. As you can see, this is an old post, I wrote a newer one after actually trying Aardvark out 2 weeks ago, and had a little exchange with Brynn Evans in the comments, see here.

    I understand what Aardvark does. I added my expertise as “Information Retrieval” and “web products” and got a question yesterday on semantic text analysis. That’s cool. What you’re saying is that the social search is in fact this people search, finding the right person. I’m struggling with that, since People Search is one known term (is Spock a social search engine then?), and Social Search also is a known term, with different examples. You’re right, though, that in this context, the ranking of people is social.

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