Wink and its people-powered brethren represent a departure from algorithmic search, which Google all but dominates. As Michael Tanne, Wink founder and CEO, explained, socially prioritized applications--known collectively among tech-elites as Web 2.0--go beyond bookmarking sites to include social networks, photo sharing, Wikis, and ratings and reviews, plus whatever new applications have yet to emerge.
"We're a search engine that indexes and ranks what people have decided to bookmark and tag throughout the Web," Tanne explained. "Wink's index will grow as tags and user input become more popular."
Tanne has synchronized Wink's system with Del.icio.us, so that when someone tags a link on one site it is automatically reflected on the other. This is only possible because Del.icio.us makes its API available to the public. Tanne said that he is planning to eventually synchronize with other bookmarking services.
Wink invites users to create "collections," which are basically tags that users can attribute to a group of existing tags. Wink has also added "Wink Answers"--a Wiki that anyone can edit, like the hugely popular Wikipedia.
Wink does retrieve search results from Google, which it places below Wink results, and runs Google AdSense ads on its site.
Yahoo!, for one, sees a bright future for Web 2.0, and is investing heavily in the search alternative. Earlier this month, the Internet company bought Del.icio.us--and less than a year earlier, it acquired the online photo-sharing site Flickr.
"We now see search and online communities at the heart of our mission," Eckhart Walther, vice president of product management at Yahoo! Search, told OnlineMediaDaily upon the acquisition of Del.icio.us.
Yahoo! launched My Web 2.0 this past summer, which is based on page-ranking technology that organizes pages based on a user's search patterns as well as "the shared knowledge of the people they trust." Also, earlier this month, Yahoo! released a branded platform for Web surfers to ask, answer, and browse each other's questions.
Called Yahoo! Answers, it relies on the minds of participating human beings--rather than computer algorithms and search terms--so the system is more conducive to common language.