With the release of MyWeb 2.0, Yahoo has added an extensive array of new features focused on community-based searching and sharing of information. “It basically enables people to tap into each other’s personal web by searching their trust network of friends,” said Eckart Walther, vice president, product management, Yahoo.
A major component of MyWeb 2.0 is the addition of “tagging,” the ability to add descriptive keywords and annotations to pages you save. If tagging sounds suspiciously like a new way of saying “metadata” to you, you’re absolutely correct. The idea behind tagging is to add structure that helps improve search results. In practice, tagging has problems that may or may not make it useful for your own searching. I’ll talk about these issues in more detail below.
Yahoo has also developed a new relevance algorithm called “MyRank” for MyWeb 2.0. “It’s a new search engine that we wrote that can search across thousands of nodes and millions of pages in a trust network,” said Walther. Unlike PageRank and other link analysis techniques used by general-purpose search engines, MyRank is designed to ferret out clues to relevance based on the pages you and your community have saved to MyWeb 2.0.
In practice, this means your search results with MyWeb 2.0 will be very different than those you get with Yahoo, Google or any other major engine. It also means that your search results will change over time, as your personal web and those of your community expand. Walther says these changes should lead to more relevant results—but that depends largely on the “quality” of members of your community and the web pages they choose to add to your communal web.
It will be interesting to see how the millions of “mainstream” web users that utilize Yahoo might embrace social bookmarking and tagging – activities that have till now been limited mostly to, as Ezster Hargittai puts it, “super-savvy Web users” on sites such as Flickr or del.icio.us.