Wikipedia, a threat to Google?

Despite Google’s accelerating dominance in the search space (according to comScore they accounted for 47.3% of all web searches last month), I tend to be a big believer that their time as “king,” is short lived. The US internet space has already seen two generations of kings, with Google as the latest and the greatest, and I think it is likely that a third winner will soon rise to power in the space (of course Google will continue to grow, and it’s not going anywhere).

Over on Micro Persuasion Steve Rubel has a great post on Wikipedia’s rapid growth and relevance, and their potential to be “next Google,” for lack of a better term (he means in terms of web traffic dominance):

For starters, the Google search engine feeds on Wikipedia to supply much of its most relevant results. It even hosts Wikipedia pages. Meanwhile, Wikipedia is gearing up to challenge Google with its own search engine. And, with the launch today of Wikiseek, it becomes quite clear that you can indeed build a high quality search engine off the collaborative encyclopedia.

I have to say ever since I discovered delicious as a fantastic place to search for all things internet and nerd related, I’ve been a huge believer in the power of social search. I remember hearing Larry Page say during a presentation (I think on google video somewhere) at some point in the past that he did not believe human editing would ever be able to provide as much relevant results as google bots can. I disagree with this. Delicious, which allows people to bookmark sites of interest and then allows anyone to see those bookmarks, consistently provides better search results on items that their core users are interested in (early adopters). Whenever I’m looking for tips on how to hack my motorola q, find a good blog, find good wordpress plugins, delicious always gives me the best results. It only gives me items that have been hand selected by humans, thus not too much junk is mixed in there (although it’s coming).

I believe wikipedia can provide the same sort of relevancy, on obviously a much greatwe scale, and it appears they are pursuing this. I believe the future of search is a mix of human and bot results. The human results are the hardest to build, and wikipedia has a 6 year headstart. Interesting..

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