Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he is putting the building blocks in place for a community-developed Web search service that would rival search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Wikia, has acquired Grub.org, a pioneering Web crawler that will enable Wikia’s forthcoming search service to scour the Web to index relevant sites. Grub is a revolutionary distributed computing platform, capable of efficiently crawling the web from a large number of diverse client machines and performing any kind of page-level analysis, using otherwise unused bandwidth and compute cycles.
The new Wikia search service will combine computer-driven algorithms and human-assisted editing when the company launches a public version of the search site toward the end of 2007. Wikia’s investors include Amazon, Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and a select group of angel investors including Marc Andreessen, Josh Kopelman, Joichi Ito, Mitch Kapor, and Ron Conway.
Why did Jimmy think of developing a new search engine? Wikia has a very crisp message from him,
“Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken.” –Jimbo Wales
He considers it to be broken because of lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency.
Hence the four principles of Wikia are,
- Transparency – Openness in how the systems and algorithms operate, both in the form of open source licenses and open content + APIs.
- Community – Everyone is able to contribute in some way (as individuals or entire organizations), strong social and community focus.
- Quality – Significantly improve the relevancy and accuracy of search results and the searching experience.
- Privacy – Must be protected, do not store or transmit any identifying data.
In its early days (few years ago) grub crawler was regarded to be good but was known for having some bad manners. I guess it was not following some basic principles of grub but later it was fixed.
In the coming days blogs all over the world will start analyzing this announcement. Don’t be too surprised to read articles of type “Is Google over?”. That would be an extreme statement but did anyone expect Google to “replace” Yahoo?