one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From lolcode to Suze Orman to Mahalo

There has long been a fascination with the number 3. I've got a strange confluence of three from today (tomorrow I shall delve into something entirely different):

1. lolcode - how long before this becomes a real scripting language? lolLinux can't be far behind.

2. Suze Orman (who is annoying as heck, but smart as a whip) suggests everyone should be open about their salaries. This would have to happen at all levels, and is somewhat crazy, but certainly transparent. Like, incredibly open and honest and transparent. Sounds kinda liberating. Who knew Suze was a hippie?

3. Mahalo hit the streets, as they say. Of course, I've known all about this for months. The one and only time I met and broke bread with C.K. Sample the Third himself, I embedded a chip in his brain that allows data transmission. Granted, it is ASCII text, and a raw dump of neural activity at that, but I managed to decipher one pattern over and over: Mahalo. But how's it run? (For the record, I could never get Jason Calacanis alone long enough to embed the chip)

One draws a comparison to ChaCha at first. ChaCha is a human-powered search, in that people actually create search results for text strings based on their judgement and a nifty "learning" algorithm and database pair. Well, yeah. But Mahalo groups stuff-- like videos, blogs, news and more.

The best example (because I'm a fan) is the Lost page. For one thing, there's a link on the main page! That's maybe because C.K. is a fan of the show, but I like how the front page has a comprehensive array of commonly searched items. And they are grouped! Now, drilling down to the page for Lost (which you could have searched for, and gotten a link to the Mahalo page and Google results) you will find everything grouped in a big friendly font. There are two cool things going on: 1) groupings are logical, like someone who knows the show versus the word lost, and 2) it becomes a 1-stop shop for what you're typically looking for in the context you're using.

That context is key. Sure, groupings make it easy, but one could kludge together groupings. Look at Google's distinction between video, images and web pages. That's great, but what if the term you're searching for isn't right?

Google does a great job, obviously. But Google still requires a little bit of knowing how to "use" it. Don't underestimate the front-page icons and links! Sure, I knew DOS. But it didn't keep me from loving my Apple ][ and my copy of The Newsroom. I think Mahalo is a very nice approach, and would have to agree with Jordan that it's something I could send to my "less technically inclined relatives" when they need to find something simple.

Not to sound like a total fanboi, but the thing is still alpha, and I've nowhere near dissected the service. I just think it's neat that the organization is logical and useful. I think users would appreciate it too, as opposed to gimmicks and silliness.

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