So Jimmy Wales — founder of Wikipedia and the for-profit spinoff Wikia — has shown some screenshots of what his “social search” site might look like, which come to us courtesy of Matthew Buckland’s blog in South Africa (always happy to welcome another Matthew to the blogosphere). And guess what? They look an awful lot like Facebook. There’s a photo and a “status” section, and a link to photo galleries, plus some miscellaneous tabs and something that looks a little like the Facebook “wall.”
The idea behind Wikia seems to be similar to the idea behind Jason Calacani’s “social search” directory Mahalo.com — the idea being that raw algorithm-powered search isn’t enough any more, because it’s all filled with spam and black-hat SEO tricks (which is true, of course), and therefore we need to inject some human beings in there. In Jimmy’s view, Google also needs some competition and isn’t really getting much except from other gigantic Internet companies (Wired has a mini-Q&A with Jimmy on the search project here).
As Mike Arrington notes, we will see whether social search actually does do a better job than regular search. But the interesting thing to me about the Wikia Search is that it is so clearly modelled after Facebook. Is that now the de facto model for a social networking site? Not that there’s anything wrong with Facebook (other than the whole walled garden thing).
It just seems like everyone wants to be Facebook now. Google and Yahoo want to make their email clients into Facebook, LinkedIn wants to be Facebook — I guess that’s not surprising when the site just pulled in $240-million for less than 2 per cent of the company. It seems that being Facebook is a pretty good thing to be right now.