Information wants to be Organized

Fifteen years ago, Yahoo attempted to classify all of the web into a heirarchical directory. That attempt failed.

The web grew to be too big and too decentralized for a heirarchical approach to work. In the world of blogs and small websites, and the long tail of content, Google’s algorithmic approach to surfacing relevant information won out.

And yet, it’s been interesting to watch an increasing trend towards centralization in the last few years. There’s Wikipedia for facts. Yelp.com for local businesses (and local business reviews). There’s SeekingAlpha.com for opinions on financial matters. There’s Amazon.com for products (and product reviews).

I call this organized information.

So what happened?

What happened is that there is just too much damn content out there now. In a world of too much content, an effective search experience is necessary. When semantically related information is organized into a portal, a deep search experience can be provided to users that leverages content semantics. For example, Yelp’s search experience is tailored to its content (you can filter by location, by type of business, by quality of the reviewer, etc).

The second advantage, for content publishers (on say, SeekingAlpha) is that it increases their chances of being heard. With so much content on the web today, it is no longer sufficient to just have something interesting to say. A dedicated portal for a content category attracts more eyeballs, attracts more hyperlinks from other authorities and a higher rank on search engines. A dedicated portal also has an engaged community that can filter relevant content to the top faster.

This trend will continue.

Who knows, in the next 15 years, we may yet end up with a self-organized directory of content on the web. And we may realize that Yahoo was really an idea ahead of its time.

Related Post: “Are Hyperlinks losing relevance as a measure of relevance?

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