The tech and "Web 2.0" section of the blogosphere is all a-twitter over the alpha launch of the new "people-powered" search engine, Mahalo, by Jason Calacanis (of Weblogs, Inc. and Netscape-relaunch fame). I’ve been checking it out a bit, and have some comments…
There’s definitely no mystery under the hood, technology-wise, here: it’s simply a locked-down wiki software. MediaWiki, in fact, the same wikiware used to run (and developed by) Wikipedia. Pretty smart, actually, because there’s no reinventing the wheel going on, and MediaWiki provides a really slick platform overall. Plus, it’s not like his other endeavors have been built on developing new tech—they have, in fact, been people-oriented and built upon existing technologies, which is what he seems to do best (and is successful at it).
On the other hand, this is not a new idea: Mahalo is "guide" driven, by people who filter through the best results for top search terms and build pages for them. I can’t help thinking that this makes it just another About.com (at least, from the early days of About.com—a clone without all the cruft that About.com has accumulated over the years), or, even more apt, just another Open Directory Project (which pretty much has been doing the exact same thing for years).
So I’m kinda split. I guess the real question is, "Would I use it?" And generally, the answer is no… since they’re only covering the top search terms, and not the esoterica that I’m often searching for (for which I primarily use Google), I don’t see it happening. I like the concept, though.