After the WhizBang!Labs implosion, I worked for Intelliseek (BuzzMetrics, Neilsen) where Sundar Kadayam was the CTO. Since leaving Nielsen, Sundar has been busy working on a new idea called Zakta. The site combines the functionality of web search, wiki and social features with the goal of simplifying the discovery, extraction and maintenance of knowledge distilled from the tangle of the web.
The vision behind Zakta is that the standard interaction with the web needs an additional layer – one which organizes the content behind the millions of results a search engine produces. In addition, by bringing individuals into the mix, these guides are maintained by people who care about those topics, protecting the general user from the frustration of disorganized results.
Google’s model, and that adopted by other engines, has always been to be a mind reader – the algorithm will bring you the perfect page for your query with no need for any interleaving layer (no advanced UI, no data visualization, no structure). While that may be possible, arriving at that point is not going to be a linear, monotonic process. In some ways, Microsoft’s launch of Bing was also an acknowledgement of the shortcomings of the mind reader model.
Approaches like Zakta’s, which acknowledge the inherent disorganization in results and leverage some amount of automated organization combined with the social model are refreshing. They put equal attention on the UX and the algorithms that find the stuff that ultimately satisfies the user.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has picked up today’s launch.
Congratulations to Sundar, Mark and Mahendra.