Saturday, November 17, 2007

Google/Facebook hybrid

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, unveiled a few screenshots of his new application which looks on first glance like some sort of Google/Facebook hybrid. So is Wales on the verge of creating a search engine/social network which could go after the market leaders in both fields?

At a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was part of the iCommons “Innovation Series”, Jimmy Wales, the man behind Wikipedia revealed the first screenshots of his new search project.

Technology blogger Matthew Buckland was at Wales session at the conference, and as soon as he saw the screenshot, immediately thought it was a Facebook profile.

Wales described the project as “Google’s worst nightmare”, and said the main inspiration for the project was the secrecy which search engines like Google operate when it comes to how they rank search results.

Wales told the gathering in Johannesburg:

“It’s not a healthy thing that power is in the hands of a couple of companies… the information needs to be out there in the public and people involved.”

So it’s a new fangled search engine which is gunning for Google, but what of the social networking elements that seem to be built in to it. Obviously with just a few hazy photos of the project so far, it’s too early to guess what form this will take, but Wales is certainly setting his aims high. Going after just one company out of Google and Facebook would be brave, going after both seems slightly mad.

Wikipedia is certainly a massive success, and if, as expected, the new project uses the same sort of collaborative effort as the online encyclopaedia does, then it may have a chance in an already crowded market. But I won’t hold my breath.
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