Commentary: Facebook + Techmeme + Mahalo =
Next Google?

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Robert Scoble has an interesting insight — a vision of sorts he’s come up with. His theory? The combination of Facebook, Techmeme and Mahalo are about to upend the traditional search industry, specifically Google. And he promises four years till that happens. Kyte.tv only allows you to embed the latest video, so in his words, here are links to his three-part series in which he explains his conclusion:

Part I of Social Graph Based Search. 14:41 minutes.

Part II of Social Graph Based Search. 15 minutes.

And a bonus round III. 6 minutes.

His basic point is that the three services are spam-resistant and have a super-powerful ‘fabric’ infrastructure behind them that’s going to give Google a run for its purpose — and quality. He states it’ll be four years before the mainstream adopts this and the three services ‘take over’ — the first two being for the services to refine to a mainstream-adoptable-point, and the remaining two for the mainstream to actually adopt the thing (in which he uses the analogy, “it took me two years to convince my Dad to switch from AltaVista to Google.”)

I’m not too sure what to think of this. In a way, I totally get what he means and where he’s coming from, and the problems he outlines and the solutions he points towards. But I have to still wonder: isn’t search a bit too ambiguous, and the long tail looooooong, which is exactly why something like Google works?

Let’s face it, no source on Techmeme is going to help me find information on the American, Long-haired “Maine Coon” cat, nor is any guide on Mahalo going to teach me how to knit my own Meaford wool socks, or my Facebook contacts make an ecosystem for me to follow on the best places to dine in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.

I don’t think you can ever underestimate the power of Google. The kind of a longtail, niche specific, I-need-this-at-this-minute type of content it tackles on the web is unreal — and it’s only going to get better at doing it. I think Scoble forgets to mention in his video that when he means Google, he only means the “fat” part of the Google — the head of the longtail, the popular content, what everyone’s looking for.

Mahalo, TechMeme, and Facebook are fat-seekers. As a frequent user of all three, I know this by what I’ve seen. The guides I find on Mahalo, the topics I see on Techmeme, and the trends I see my contacts wow-ing over on Facebook all fairly represent the same thing — the current stuff in the world. There’s no possible way it could go beyond that, even with a hundred years of refining. The tail is too long.

In the next four years, Mahalo, Techmeme, and Facebook are going to kick Google’s butt when it comes to the fat part of content on the web. As for the rest, Google is going to remain Google. There’s no changing in that.


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