Thursday, January 26, 2012

When Will We Get the Craigslist or Pinboard of Search Engines?

Dave Winer:

So Google started out on the right path, but eventually they went wild and desperate, and did all the things with their product that users probably thought they would never do. So now I'm shopping for a search engine to invest in. DuckDuckGo could be that, except for this one problem. Imho, it's inexorably on the same path that Google was on. That means they're going to spend years of our time pretending that they are still on our side, until one day it'll be blatantly obvious that we just wasted years waiting for them to give take us somewhere we'd want to go . They are using us as pawns, as big techco's always do.

There is an antidote to VC-driven mission creep that "big techco's" are susceptible to. It is essentially the craigslist model, where you have a small privately held company that is perfectly happy to not maximize profits or expand its reach or really change at all as it grows.

Pinboard just does bookmarks and Maciej seems to have planned it well enough that he can smoothly scale it up with steadily growing profits and no need for big outside investors. It is a profitable small business that seems to suit his needs just fine.

So the question is, when will the understanding of search and the availability of storage and processing power make a similar search engine inevitable? Perhaps soon:

Sebastian Thrun, who taught the massive on-line AI class with Peter Norvig at Stanford, has left Stanford to join a startup to offer more online courses. Their first course will teach complete novices how to build their own search engine, in seven weeks.

Google's drive into social may be motivated by a fear of being disrupted in the basic search market. Regardless of what is really going on, Google's actions are making real competition for search likely for the first time in decades.

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