Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Zakta the Facebook of Search?

"Social search" is about five years old. The term refers to a method of web searching that utilizes various collaborative tools to enhance search results. The original goal was to enliven search with Digg-like voting, Wiki-style edits and the like.

Social search seemed to hit its zenith a few years ago, when Wikia debuted. An offshoot of Wikipedia, Wikia promised a wiki-style, collaborative approach to search. Judging by what I hear about Wikia (or, rather, don't hear), it hasn't exactly transformed the world. A recent visit confirms that its focus has morphed to that of "wiki search" -- i.e., searches of various specialty or vertical wikis -- with a particular emphasis on gaming.

The premier of the Zakta search engine, then, is noteworthy. It appears to be very different from Wikia and other social search sites I've seen. And potentially, much more valuable than any social search engine to date.

When you first use Zakta, it appears you've dropped into a curious and appealing combination of Google, Facebook and Wikipedia. There is a decided emphasis on organized search results. Anyone can search Zakta -- just like Google -- but once you've registered, you can see several immediate benefits. Registered Zakta users can create their own profiles and connect with other users. If that doesn't sound familiar, it certainly looks familiar -- similar to Facebook or LinkedIn.

The benefit of creating a profile and connecting with other users soon becomes obvious. Communities of like-minded individuals can collaborate on enhancing search reults for, say, Angelina Jolie.

Furthermore, Zakta is actually integrated into social networking platforms like Facebook. So, if you're an avid Facebook user, you can take advantage of Zakta within Facebook itself. Or, if you prefer traditional web searches, Zakta will operate seamlessly in that world as well.

At first blush, I see one vertical niche for Zakta that does not appear to be addressed by either Google, Wikipedia or Facebook. That would be "personality search" -- consider Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, historical figures and the like. While Google returns only search results and Wikipedia enforces strict rules on the content of its articles, Zakta may offer much more flexibility and entertainment value for users and contributors.

Consider that hypothetical Zakta article on, for example, Angelina (no -- I'm not fixated, I promise). It could contain not only biographical information, but rumors, communities of fans, the best photo albums, collections of multimedia and related material. This well-organized "guide" would not be possible in Wikipedia and would be difficult to assemble into a cohesive whole using Facebook.

In short, Zakta appears to take a refreshing new angle on search through its use of communities and social networks. It's definitely worth a visit.

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