Francisco Costa

Trend for 2011 – Human Search Engines

Those who use Internet since the 90’s may remember the underground cyberpunk culture, the birth of IRC and the rise of many search engines.

Ask Jeeves (now known as appeared around 1997 and gained lots of buzz. The site encouraged users to search, by ask one question and the keywords were filtered by company personnel in order to present more relevant results, just like if you have a personal steward who gives you the answers to your enigmas and requests.

Despite its relative success, at the end of the decade, a startup called Google erased all that market competition.

find xIs interesting to note that more than 10 years later, new applications where questions are asked, grow every day just like mushrooms. Of course they are adapted to the present reality and use technologies and concepts that just weren’t there in the beginning of the Web, but the concept is quite similar. Supported through a social network based architecture, sites like Yahoo Answers, Formspring, Quora, the all Stack Exchange Network or Mahalo allow users to ask questions about particular subjects, usually categorized in different domains, and obtain results, answered and ranked by the community. This kind of services are already being outsourced (like Qhub) and they can leverage some business opportunities based on third-party applications.

I also believe that there is much to explore in some non-technological fields such as arts (movies, music, etc.), sports and economics. And of course all the niches within each of these areas.

Collective intelligence communities allow an effectively knowledge management when you live on an information society. The dissemination of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets increased the group of information junkies. In urban places and big cities of modern countries, is now unthinkable for an individual not to be connected 24 hours a day.

While mathematical algorithms processed by computer, such as Google, are continuously being improved, I also believe there is a lot to explore in areas such as artificial intelligence and semantic web. So for now, nothing better to have humans answering my questions.