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 (at least, from the early days of—a clone without all the cruft that 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.

2 thoughts on “Mahalo”

  1. I agree. I think Jason is way late to the game. The obvious immediate issue is scale. Run a search for "angel food cake" and you get nothing more than a set of irrelevant links and scraped results from Google, plus a slew of Adwords (which is his main revenue source). Granted it’s a reach expecting results this early on for an esoteric query – but if Mahalo is supposed to replace search engines, or give better results? This will die on the vine just like the ODP did. Also Calacanis has a history of treating employees poorly – I can only imagine the incentives (or lack thereof) in his current venture.

    BTW, run a search on for "angel food cake" and the

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