Start-Up Unveils Searchable, Wiki-Ready, Do-It-Yourself Web Kits

by , Aug 23, 2005, 6:00 AM
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Fusing two Web trends, search personalization and consumer-generated content, a fresh Internet entrant named Jeteye Inc. will announce the beta launch of its shared search platform. The company, started by Internet pioneer David Hayden, is based on wiki-ready Web kits dubbed "Jetpaks."

Similar in appearance to a Web page, the Jeteye-branded Web-files can include users' self-selected search results from any popular engine, photos, blog-like comments, and links, as well as links to other Jetpaks. Users can then send their personalized Jetpacks to Jeteye members and non-members alike, and make them searchable within the Jeteye search index.

For example, a U2 fan can create his own U2 Jetpak or search for another member's U2-devoted Jetpak, which may or may not be amendable. Either way, U2 fans within Jeteye's community can learn from each other's shared searching experience. Companies are also encouraged to create their own branded Jetpaks to share and participate in the Jeteye community.

"Until now, searching the Web has lacked the power of intuition," said Hayden, also Jeteye's CEO. "We have built an industry-compatible platform that marries computing algorithms and human thought, allowing users to access Jetpaks created by a social network of individuals who have found and created new online information."

In true wiki fashion, Jeteye is an open network. All one needs to gain membership is an e-mail and a user name--but anyone can access open Jetpaks, whether they're a member or not. Membership within Jeteye, however, lets users create and modify their own Jetpaks, and so forth.

The Jetpaks have no apparent space constraints. The searchable packages can be modified, edited, and added to in a "wiki-like" continuation of content, again, if the Jetpak's creator wants to leave the door open.

The company has gone ahead and "pre-populated" Jetpaks with the most common searches in an effort to acquaint users with a Jetpak's potential uses. Each can include social networking, Web searches, blogs, images, and other digital media files. Users are meant to share the Web searches and information-gathering processes for the benefit of other users.

Yankee Group analyst Su Li Walker indicated that she was optimistic that the service would find its audience. "Any search competitor trying to challenge the large engines in the mass market is facing an uphill battle," Walker said. "But Jeteye seems to be taking a particularly innovative approach--taking search personalization and consumer-generated media--that niche, early adopters generally respond well to."

Still, it's not clear that the market--which is still trying to figure out the difference between a blog, a podcast, and wiki--is really ready for Jetpaks.

"Will I need, or think I need, a Jetpak in a year?" asked Whit Andrews, research vice president at Gartner. "Who knows? I was doing just fine with my family Web site a year ago, before I realized that I needed a blog. So will a Jetpak replace my blog in a year? I got rid of my family Web site, didn't I?"

Jeteye is not alone in its pursuit to change the way people search and relate to the Web, and to each other through the Web. In June, Yahoo! introduced a "social search engine" named My Web 2.0, based on a page-ranking technology that organizes pages based on a user's search patterns and "the shared knowledge of the people they trust."

Building on folksonomies and tagging networks like del.icio.us and Flickr--which Yahoo! acquired prior to launching its social search--My Web 2.0 makes Web pages popular among a network accessible to everyone within that network, similar to Jeteye.

Jeteye's ranking is based on a star rating system that allows members to evaluate other members' Jetpaks. The highest-rated Jetpaks within the Jeteye community will be placed at the top of their appropriate keyword results.

Search giant Google has always relied on a "Page Rank" system, which--by contrast to a social-sensitive system--is based on the frequency with which results are linked to by the Net collectively.

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