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url.com – a community focused search engine

A couple of weeks ago Sreekanth Sreedharan from url.com sent me a note with a beta invite to their new search engine with a twist; it aggregates results from MSN, Google, and Yahoo! and provides the rankings for each result, as well as user ratings on its usefulness. Users can also comment on results to provide further depth and human feedback to increase relevance. It humanizes and democratizes search, while continuing to take advantage of the power of each engines algorithms.

It’s a good concept and one I’m enjoying exploring. It’s a bit counterintuitive to the way I’m used to searching (they don’t call Google a monopoly for nothing…), but the idea behind it makes it worth the effort.

In terms of specific feedback – the homepage could use some context, it isn’t clear immediately what the purpose of the site is, how you use it, or how/ why you should participate. Also, it would be good if someone proofread the FAQ’s…

I do have a concern that, as with many ‘ranking’ related systems companies or individuals could try and game the system, but hopefully the community over time will develop enough to counteract any potential concerns.

All in all an intriguing addition to both the search and social networking spaces, and one to watch.

[photo credit: scienceduck on Flickr]

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Weird Al and AOL need a mash up

Poor Weird Al. His video “White & Nerdy” was leaked to YouTube before it had a chance to premiere on AOL, and now AOL has decided not to go ahead with the launch. Al posted on his blog his disappointment in not having the wider exposure AOL would have afforded him, and his fans lept to his defence in the comments and lamented the fact that they wouldn’t have the chance to see it on the portal & support Al.

Not a good PR situation for AOL all in all, as Al decided to post it for free on his MySpace page, he’s getting tons of press, and the video is enormously popular (and quite hilarious).

So what they need is a mash up. Pure and simple.

AOL made a mistake in backing away from the video because it leaked onto YouTube, and thereby walking away from Al’s community of fans, when a good strategy would have been (and still could be) to mash it up. Engage the community. Give them something exclusive. Ask them to create something themselves. Initiate and take it in stride.

Why doesn’t AOL mash up an exclusive re-mix of the Weird Al and Chamillionaire videos and post that instead?

Or ask users to submit their best mix?

The pre-release of the video actually affords AOL a chance to get into the social media space proactively and bring the community something additional of value. Unexpected? Yes. But not insurmountable if you’re thinking 2.0.

[Web 2.0-ized logo via Alex P - h/t ProPR.ca]

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