Wikia Search Launches Monday

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will launch the OpenSource search engine on January 7th, according to the Washington Post.

You must know that at at any given moment at Google, there are countless technical experts working on tweaking and refining the Google search engine, to the extent that it is a very good search engine, and it is much more than a search engine.

It makes sense that if you enter the phrase “hypnotic clam sauce” you will get some kind of result that has to to with clams, perhaps in a hypnotic state, with sauce. That is what a search engine does.

With Google, you can also enter a phrase like this one:

29 barrels of oil in gallons =

or

4.3 angstroms in parsecs =

or

8 bushels of apples in cubic meters of oranges =

and you’ll get answers like this::

29 barrels of oil = 1 218 US gallons

and

4.3 angstroms = 1.39353389 × 10-26 Parsecs

and

… well, that one doesn’t really work, you can’t compare apples to oranges.

Anyhow, there is a googol of things you can do with a Google.

Also, Google, as a company, has managed to follow its own motto of “Don’t Be Evil” better than any other company of the same size that I can think of. But of course, that could go badly at any moment in time. Indeed, when the Robots try to take over, Google will probably be the first thing they’ll grab, not even bothering with the radio station, which is what is usually taken over but the usurpers in such scenarios.

So when the Google Search Engine starts acting a little funny, and when you call Google on the phone it sounds like you are talking to the Coneheads, and they claim they are from France, its time to break out the survival kit and head for the hills. But I digress.

The point is that Google makes tons of money running this business, and apparently spends a fair amount of it paying geeks and hackers to fiddle. That’s good.

Now, as implied above, the founder of the OpenSource Wikipedia project, Jimmy Wales, wants to make an OpenSource search engine. Instead of a nice campus of buildings in Cupertino, California with a zillion techies alternating back and forth between playing Wii, drinking excellent coffee, and coding, there will be thousands of techies locked in their own basements getting off on code.

One true advantage to this project (for us end users) is that the search engine will be transparent. At the moment, the Google search engine is not transparent, although there is an API (an interface that programmers can use). Nonetheless, many of the early out-of-building uses of Google …. uses that Google itself did not necessarily envision, were actually violations of the Google end user agreement, which turned out to become key aspects of Google’s fame and fortune, such as the use of Google maps for everything. These initial uses of Google and Google maps were done without knowing what was going on inside the engine, and with the constant threat of Google changing the engine without anyone knowing that was coming, thus breaking several systems. As far as I know, as the system has evolved, it has actually worked well, probably because Google has realized that people using the Google search engine in creative ways is good for everybody including Google, and they have this “don’t be evil” pledge.

What I’m saying is that Google has actually acted in a certain way like it is OpenSource, but without transparent code and without the open community. They get similar results, in terms of programing and creativity, by giving the geeks and hackers Wii’s and coffee and presumably a reasonable salary and a good benefits package.

The decision for Google to outsource it’s coding to the lowest bidder, create a stricter EULA and enforce it, and attempt to take over the world could come at any time. Or never. The problem is that the corporate structure allows, and even encourages, something like this to happen, even if those individuals in charge of the company now would prefer not to go in that direction. This leads to another good reason to have the Wikia search engine. If Google goes evil, we can just drop it and switch to the alternative search platform.

Sort of how when Microsoft went evil, everybody dropped it and switched to the alternative system.

(Oh, wait, wait a minute, that might not work…)

The Washington Post Story is here.

Comments

  1. #1 Steven
    January 3, 2008

    Jimmy Whales is not the founder of google, he is one of the founders of wikipdia. You misstate that in the opening sentance. fixed

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