Yahoo, Flickr & the Democritization of Information

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Stefanie Olsen has a good analysis today of Yahoo's Flickr buy, and the potential impact on search and other web applications. I like the early quote from Bob Rosenschein of Gurunet, talking about the power of group tagging on Flickr (and similar communities):

"The democratization of information is the real interesting thing about this," said Bob Rosenschein, CEO of GuruNet, an answer search engine. "They're messy and noisy and they're not always accurate, but they're people talking about real subjects; and in that manner they have tremendous statistical interest when they get to scale. There's a wisdom of the crowd. The most interesting applications are before us."

And then at the end the impact on web search is addressed.

Free tagging could help Web search in a couple of ways. If Yahoo or Google could enlist people to annotate visited Web pages or those which crop up in search results, it could be a valuable voter's guide for them to deliver better results next time.

A key byproduct of free tagging for search would be a visitor loyalty coveted by all the providers. As many researchers point out, the cost to switch search engines is nothing, compared with instant messaging technologies, e-mail, or applications that carry what's called "the network effect."

It's a good read, with interesting comparisons to the likes of DMOZ and other older ideas where this "democratization of information" -- giving the users control -- didn't work as well as it's working now on Flickr.


Not good for Search

Tagging has some wonderful potential for all manner of things but NOT for augmenting or improving web search in anyway - Danny posted that here and at the time i wondered what he was talking about as i'd not seen anyone suggesting it even might be good for web search.

It's a very appropriate read at this point though :)

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