What's Yahoo Mindset?
Dave, I just heard about a new project out of Yahoo's research labs called Mindset that apparently offers a slick new interface to searching the Web. What do you know about it?
I've been watching Yahoo to see what they'd do in the search world, as Google has taken an early lead, but MSN Search has produced some very nice features of their own too, features that suggest savvy searches should use both tools. But what of Yahoo, the original Web search engine?
The Yahoo research team have been busy on a number of different projects, actually, at Yahoo Research Labs, including their fun Tech Buzz Game and some slick-o technologies they're showing off at the wonderfully named next.yahoo.com.
But back to Mindset! According to the description on the Yahoo site, it: "applies a new twist on search that uses machine learning technology to give you a choice: View Yahoo! Search results sorted according to whether they are more commercial or more informational (i.e., from academic, non-commercial, or research-oriented sources)."
Fascinating idea. Let's have a look.
To test the program out, I decided to search for gold mining africa economy as I've been reading up on how surprisingly important gold is to the economic well being of many African nations. First off, though, I ran the search on Google to see what kind of results it would produce 1.28 million hits, starting with some product options, then some travel information, background articles and even a UN report:
Not too bad. Let's try the same search on MSN Search. Yech. Ads for gold mining on eBay, gold mining at shopping.com, and the ads that aren't sponsored are oozing towards the top too: match #2 is from "investcom.com":
With those in mind, how does Yahoo's Mindset do? Darn well, even with its default value of balancing shopping and research factors. The top match when the slider is mid-point is about migrant labor in South Africa's mining economy. Of course, Mindset only found 106,110 results, compared to Google's 1 mil+, but I don't want tons, just a few good matches:
Where this all gets interesting, of course, is when the slider is adjusted to favor commercial or non-commercial content (based on the Mindset heuristics). I'll start by switching to shopping:
The resultant page dumped the research result and the top pages feel more commercial, though they're still not overtly commerce-oriented:
Slipping the slider all the way to the other side:
Produces the following terrific results:
I'm going to wrap up here, but I'm darn impressed. Not so much that I can push more towards commerce - goodness knows it seems like there's already plenty of commerce online - but because I can screen them out of the search results. Kudos to Yahoo's team for this slick system, and I look forward to a wider deployment of this technology!
Thanks to Adult ADD coach Pete Quily for bringing Mindset to my attention too
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