A couple of more steps were taken in FindtheBest.com’s world of social- and human-curated search today. It’s introduced top ten slide shows and decision guides.
The former addresses the presentation question around how consumers like to view information, and how the bloggers that embed FindtheBest content into their site like to handle comparison information, too. “Bloggers love the slide show format as it doesn’t consume too much real estate and you can easily navigate it,” says founder Kevin O’Connor, who previously founded DoubleClick.
“Consumers like it too – it’s a little more dramatic.” Customization features mean that consumers now also can constrain information to what they’re actually interested in – the top ten colleges in a certain area vs. nationwide, for instance.
On the decision guide front, FindtheBest is hoping to provide intelligence around the most salient points it discovers about an industry. “As we research every area we uncover an incredible amount of information,” O’Connor says, “like when it comes to telescopes, forget about zoom. It’s all about aperture, the light you get that’s key to a buying decision.”
The decision guides point out what people should be thinking about and what to look out for – hint, you probably don’t need all ten levels of a language software program to prepare for a trip to Italy. “We want to help people sort through all the marketing propaganda to figure out what they want and need,” he says.
As for some of the other efforts it’s been pursuing where help perhaps can come from exploiting natural language processing capabilities or more explicit semantic relationships (originally discussed here) across the hundreds of millions of facts within its system, work is still underway. For instance, its Q&A is still in the alpha stage. “We want to add more so you can, say, compare Harvard, Yale and NYU and then automatically generate that, and make the search bar a lot more intelligent, but today we are not a Q&A site,” he says.
Consumer advocacy is where the semantic web can intersect with FindtheBest’s mission, too. “A big part of the semantic web is reputation. Where is this data from,” says O’Connor. And that intersection may manifest in what he says to “definitely expect” regarding leveraging Facebook’s Open Graph protocol (see this story about investors in FindtheBest through Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers sFund, including Facebook).
“Social-side recommendations would be sort of the ultimate. We have expert recommendationss, and user recommendations, but you don’t know those users,” O’Connor says. “When friends recommend something that is huge. That would be a killer area if we could get to that position.”