Google versus Wikia and Grub
Wikia plus Grub mashup challenges Google
Recently I did a short blog entry where I said Google's biggest competitor is Wikipedia. That comment was made after a steam pipe burst in New York and Wikipedia did a good job of explaining what happened. Today, Wikipedia founder and Wikia (I'll explain the difference in a moment) co-founder Jimmy Wales announced at OSCON, that Wikia has acquired Grub. Grub is a distributed search project that was part of Looksmart Ltd.
Here is the lineup. Google is the world's largest search engine company and is based on a highly scaled proprietary hardware architecture running a highly scaled and highly secret set of mathematical rules that cough up search results. The idea was revolutionary when conceived but while always getting better at matching search results to user expectations, the system does nothing to add context or content. The business that seems to have done the best at cracking the Google code is - like I said - Wikipedia. Wikipedia whose online user-generated encyclopedia is a big reason you don't run into people selling the Encyclopedia Britannica much anymore, has an enviable Google page rank of 8 and in part because of its always refreshed content and numerous links always seems to come up one, two or three in Google search results. Coming up one, two or three on Google is a mighty valuable digital property.
Wales and co-founder Angela Beesley hope to combine the methodology of group content effort learned from Wikipedia and Wikia. Wikia is an open source search engine built around the principles of transparency, community, quality and privacy. Grub is designed use personal computing resources towards a common goal, something like everyone contributing unused computing cycles to search for life in outer space. The Grub model has some standing in the industry as LookSmart CTO Michael Grubb showed he knew a lot about scale and Internet distribution when he was at Akamai.
Wales, never one to decline an opportunity to make a speech from a soapbox, was quoted in the press release about the search project as follows, ""The desire to collaborate and support a transparent and open platform for search is clearly deeply exciting to both open source and businesses. Look for other exciting announcements in the coming months as we collectively work to free the judgment of information from invisible rules inside an algorithmic black box."
Microsoft is trying to outGoogle, Google by being bigger, faster and more ad friendly. Yahoo would like to outGoogle Google, but seems lost right now in competing internal priorities. Wales by applying social networks to search while Wikipedia continues to enjoy top search ranking by Google is applying a pincher move on Google that will bear watching.