CBSMW alerts us to Ask’s package deal – the trend of creating a editorial menagerie around certain well-worn search terms involving celebrities, current events, and the like. Some might say this is simply algorithmic dress up, but at the end of the day this is editorial, folks. The best decisions about what to show a consumer interested in Britney or Shrek will not come from an algorithm, it will ultimately come from editors. Sure, you can do a decent approximation up to a point with computers, but to really fine tune it, you need human decisions. If the format takes off, money will flow into and from this model, and it will become economical to in fact have more humans doing this. It’s web search rebuilding human input, in a way.
FWIW, it is not surprising that the one company who does NOT dabble in this, at least not much, is Google (once could argue the integration of news and Froogle is a step in that direction). Editorial, in general, is not what Google does, but Yahoo has already begun the practice, MSFT probably will increase it soon, and Ask claims to own it. Excite was working on technology like this back in the day, but this is not new, in fact Bill Gross did the same thing with GoTo back in 1998, as the pic at left shows (I got this as part of my research on the book..click for full view.)