How to Blekko? To Blek?

The term “Google it” has grown in such wide spread popularity it’s not a strange phrase to hear anymore on a day to day basis. It may be in an ad, a conversation with a colleague or something you catch in a story online. The search engine and company, Google, has grown in such a way it’s actually a verb. Not too bad for a string of letters and numbers whose conceptual purpose was to bring order to chaos of sorts.

There’s been a host of contenders in the search space, Live search now Bing, Yahoo which is now powered by Bing, as well as some who fell by the wayside and were either forgotten, or scooped up to be made part of a larger whole. Fast, Jellyfish.com, Powerset, Cuil and Wolfram Alpha. But none have been able to reliably hold a card to the power that Google commands of the web. Bing has it’s share and niche, and there are users who are comfortable with the new and sometimes bothersome Facebook integration; who still needs to learn the difference between opt-in and opt-out.

The newest kid on the block, is Blekko.com, whose choice to serve the the search audience with vertical, more specific searches, as opposed to horizontal encompassing search results. Founded by Rich Skrenta, Blekko aims to improve search results by leveraging the supposed wisdom of the crowd.

“We realized we could make Web tools that let users sign up and help make the search engine better. If we opened up the process, we could not only get orders of magnitude more people involved than we could ever hope to employ, we could also create an open, accountable process around the search engine relevance data.”

In short, by signing up you can create what Blekko calls slashtags, which work similar to Twitters hashtags to categorize tweets. The end result being search results which ignore irrelevant results or farm content.

The downside noticed with the engine so far, is that the key which makes it unique (the slashtags), also allows it to be manipulated. Blekko seeks to create highly relevant results with this method based on human user input as to what is deemed important. The big problem with people of course, is we’re fallible. What’s important on a topic to me and you, isn’t neccisarily important to anyone else on the same subject. It’s an interesting search engine, it delivers hazy results at present, but it does sport the word “beta” on it’s page, so what the tech will shape up to be is yet to be seen.