Saturday, February 3, 2007

Social search - and the winner is?

As you all know I‘m a huge fan of social bookmarking. One of the reasons I am so bullish, beside the fact that it is so darn useful, is that I see it as the germ plasm for the yet to be invented social search engines.

There are three primary players in this area (that I know of): del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and the recently announced Search Wikia project. I place the Search Wikia project in the "real" category as they are not starting from scratch. They are building this on top of Lucene and the power of Wikipedia. This is not vaporware. I'm sure I could put Google somewhere in this list, but who has a clue what they are working on? I probably should put Digg on this list as well, but if I do that then there‘s no end to what can go on the list. So I‘ll leave Digg in the “got me?” category for now.

I use del.icio.us. I saw in the del.icio.us blog this week that they have added a half-million users in the last 4.5 months. Impressive growth.

We've been busy: since our announcement in september of our millionth signup, another half-million users have joined the fun. And because of this, we've been more quiet then I would like, and I want to apologize.

I like to see this sort of growth as I stuck my neck out at the end of the year and declared 2007 the year that it takes off (I didn‘t quite say that but I do think its time has arrived):

...social bookmarking is the best tool there is for keeping people on the same page (you just thought it was the wiki), and it is my favorite thing to evangelize bar none.

The big competitor to del.icio.us is Stumbleupon which actually has more users than del.icio.us. Being that it is a privately held company, and del.icio.us is owned by a behemoth like Yahoo, its registered user base of 1.8 million is quite impressive. I did use StumbleUpon for a time, but found that I settled at del.icio.us. I suspect that this had more to do with who was using del.icio.us than any particular feature or strength of the software.

I did a Google Trends just to compare the two:

google

Wow, looks to me like StumbleUpon is doing quite well indeed. If I was reading a stock chart I‘d be remarking about how those lines are about to cross, and I‘d be putting all my money on StumbleUpon.

Which brings me back to this in Joshua Schachter‘s blog posting:

While we've done some integration work with Yahoo, it's now time to do more meaningful joint development work to take advantage of all the great technology that a company that does one hojillion hits a day has at its disposal.

Hmmm? I‘m thinking this is not such a good idea. Obviously, someone at Yahoo knows that del.icio.us is their future or they never would have purchased them, but it was a smart move to keep del.icio.us autonomous. It‘s too soon to be bringing del.icio.us into the fold. This stuff is still in its infancy, and I fear that greater integration with Yahoo will kill their ability to innovate. I see too many things in the Yahoo culture to tell me they don‘t really get it. Flickr anyone? Could you see Google doing something so stupid? I think not. So please Yahoo, if you want to have a future leave the good folks at del.icio.us alone. If del.icio.us needs more help go out and hire it.

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