April 15, 2009

My _Guardian_ column on Wikia Search's Failure

"Shutdown of Wikia Search proves empty rhetoric of collaboration"

"The shutdown of Wikia Search - an attempt to apply Wikipedia-style ideas to create an open source, commercial search engine - came as no surprise to informed observers"

I didn't suggest a title, leaving to the editors what they wanted to emphasize, and this one is fine.

I have some good turns of phrase in this article - calling Google the "Great Search Satan" (looks like nobody ever used that phrasing before), and talking about "mining user-generated discontent". And I close with "a taint of half-baked dilettantism and corporate exploitation.".

An open search engine is a great idea, and I support the concept in general. But Wikia had too much of a conflict of interest in term of corporate motives to be right for it.

Blog bonus: I wanted to use this old joke I've mutated, somewhere, but it was too long for the column:

Two entrepreneurs are in the woods following the trail of a ferocious predatory Google. All of a sudden, the Google crashes out of the brush and heads straight for them. They scramble up the nearest tree, but the Google starts climbing up the tree after them. The first entrepreneur starts taking off his heavy leather hiking boots and pulls a pair of sleek running shoes from his backpack. The second entrepreneur gives him a puzzled look and says, "What in the world are you doing?"

He replies, "I figure when the Google gets close to us, we'll jump down and make a run for it."

The second guy says, "Are you crazy? We both know you can't outrun a full-grown Google."

The first one replies: "I don't have to outrun the Google, I only have to outrun you!"

[Wikia Search did not have to be a "Google Killer". It only had to outrun its costs, using digital sharecroppers as bait, to make a profit (though it couldn't even do that)]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia , wikia-search | on April 15, 2009 09:28 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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"So far, nobody has found a way to fund such a platform" What ever happened to Project Quaero funded by the French and German government?

Posted by: Alex M M M at April 16, 2009 09:01 AM

Quaero is dead. I don't know why it died, probably quarrels among the companies and governments involved.

The problem with a European Google is that European (copyright) law would apply to it, making it difficult to implement things like the cache, the news aggregator, the translator, and perhaps search itself (because indexing will soon be recognized as a new exploitation right, requiring permission from the copyright holder).

Posted by: Florian Weimer at April 16, 2009 02:00 PM