A search engine with the human touch

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A human-powered search engine was launched on Thursday, the latest of a series of innovations to help users cope with the overwhelming amount of information, images and video available on the web.

Mahalo – Hawaiian for “thank you” – has been developed by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis and is backed by Sequoia Capital, the Silicon Valley firm that supplied venture capital for Google.

Mahalo is employing 40 people in Los Angeles to collate relevant links on results pages for popular search queries.

“Everyone gave up on humans because Google got so good,” said Mr Calacanis.

“But now 80 to 90 per cent of the information on the web is spam, and Google results are filled with search slime-buckets inserting themselves in the process.

“People are building websites to appeal not to humans but machines [that select search results].”

Mr Calacanis’s approach to search is similar to sites with human experts such as About.com and Wikipedia.

His staff have built 4,000 results pages to date and hope to have 25,000 by the end of next year.

Mahalo’s pages can integrate different elements such as RSS news feeds and YouTube videos.

This is part of a trend as search engines introduce Web 2.0 features such as dynamic pages to cope with the range of media available, from images to videos, blogs and online music.

Google introduced Universal Search earlier this month, which allows it to include video, photos, news and other features from its other services in its standard results pages.

Technorati, a search engine for blogs, relaunched last week with a “live 360-
degree results page” showing what was happening around the web through blogs, social networking sites, event listings and the latest videos, pictures and podcasts.

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