Mahalo launched a new Firefox extension last week at Gnomedex. It's called "Follow," and once installed, it does just that. It's a mix of a toolbar and sidebar that pulls up related search results from whatever page you're on. It's got a built-in Mahalo search box in an attempt to ween you off your Google and Yahoo search tendencies. It's also got a StumbleUpon-like function to recommend whatever page you're looking at to others with yes, no, and maybe buttons, along with a button to take you to a random Mahalo … Read more
In a world filled with Google alternatives, this search tool is different even from them: it's powered by humans. Instead of a server farm that crawls through the entire known Web so it can automatically match Web pages to the queries you type, Mahalo's search results are created by humans, in anticipation of the queries its users will type in.
How can this possibly work? Because, Calacanis says, the top 10,000 search terms account for 24 percent of all searches. If you can create great results for the top results, users will learn to appreciate the difference between machine search results--which are often thrown off by spam and poor-quality links--and human-powered search pages, lovingly created by caring search editors. For the obscure "long tail" queries that make up the 76 percent of search terms, Mahalo will serve up Google results.
In the demo I got last night, in advance of Calacanis hitting the D5 stage today, he showed me a few results that were demonstrably better than what Google would return, both in content and presentation. Searching for "Paris Hotel," for example, gave a list of great links, clearly chosen by someone who knows the difference between a link farm and a real travel site. Also, the links are categorized in the way a human would set them up: by general price category. A search on "Corvette," had similarly good links, as well as RSS feeds from appropriate car fan blogs, a stats box showing information about the current Corvette model year, a list of links to cars that Corvette buyers might also be looking at, and other sections of relevant links and info.