The organizers of the DLD conference in Munich put on a great show today. One of the more lively sessions was called “Humans Disrupting Algorithms” and featured Wikipedia/Wikia Search’s Jimmy Wales and Mahalo’s Jason Calacanis, moderated by Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick.
Jimmy and Jason each gave a brief overview of their human powered search engines. Jason railed on Google and other big engines, saying algorithms have failed to control spam and SEO gaming, and that humans must be involved to get good results. Jimmy was more circumspect, and spent most of his time arguing that large numbers of people will be willing to spend time helping Wikia Search develop good results.
Perhaps the most interesting moment, however, was when Google’s VP of Search Product and User Experience Marissa Mayer commented on human v. algorithmic search results from the audience.
ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick, who didn’t attend, has a good basic transcript of the session (proving to me once again that it is often easier to cover a conference remotely instead of batting crowds and dealing with terrible Internet coverage). I was able to take some video of a couple of interesting segments, though, embedded below.
In the first segment Wales gives the audience his overview of Wikia Search, and Calacanis jumps in with a few observations as well. The second is Marissa’s comment on what she sees as a false dichotomy – Google Page Rank, she notes, is based on real humans linking to sites on the web. Listening to her felt like a cold shower after a night of heavy partying.
As an aside, the DLD conference is clearly one of the better events I’ve attended in the last few months.