News.com writes about the longer-temr impact of Yahoo’s acquisition of Flickr.
Flickr is a pioneer in a new method for cataloging the Internet that some believe could revolutionize Web search. As a result, Flickr could give Yahoo new competitive tools to take on Google, if it can turn Flickr’s community-based technology to broader use.
“The democratization of information is the real interesting thing about this,” said Bob Rosenschein, CEO of GuruNet, an answer search engine. “They’re messy and noisy and they’re not always accurate, but they’re people talking about real subjects; and in that manner they have tremendous statistical interest when they get to scale. There’s a wisdom of the crowd. The most interesting applications are before us.”
It’s a deceptively simple premise that holds enormous consequences for information management, boosters believe, provided the stars align properly. In addition to Flickr, up-and-coming communities at Wikipedia, Del.icio.us and others have many people pondering the future of free tagging, as some call it.
Given the billions of files available on the Web, tagging has generally been considered unworkable. Flickr has gotten around the problem by recruiting hundreds of thousands of people to participate for free. Its loose social framework offers a community that lets people discover, quite serendipitously, interesting photos in the collections of strangers. Without a central body of editors controlling the index, the network also can reveal rare insight into cultural zeitgeists from the people using it–for example, see a collection of Central Park photos taken by locals, rather than professionals.