Next week, OrganizedWisdom will attempt what is referred to in marketing circles as a re-launch. Last year, the company debuted as a platform where consumers could share “health wisdom.” However, the founders, Steven Krein and Unity Stoakes, quickly changed course. Realizing that the Web is awash with user-generated content like blogs and online forums, they decided that it would be difficult for a related platform to gain traction.
Finding relevant health information online can be a chore so they decided to revamp OrganizedWisdom into a Web search platform. But there’s a twist. Instead of relying on algorithms to classify content, they are turning to the computer that’s been with us since the beginning: the human brain. According to the company press release:“OrganizedWisdom.com features a custom health search engine curated by trained search experts and guided by a team of specialized physicians. The service provides credible, well-organized search results pages for the most popular health search terms, without the clutter, redundant links . . . or spam typically found in search engines.”
If this sounds familiar, it is. Yahoo! was first introduced as a human-powered search engine. AskJeeves started the same way. More recently, Mahalo, backed by Jason Calacanis, launched in Alpha mode this May.
Human-powered online health search is certainly an interesting idea, but is it scalable? Hiring and training human editors requires lots and lots of money. OrganizedWisdom hopes to reduce some of its costs by relying on volunteer labor. According to Stoakes: “OrganizedWisdom Health also taps into the wisdom of our site visitors to help improve the results. Anyone can suggest links they feel are missing and deserve to be included on a WisdomCard, and can report or discuss any links they feel should be removed. Each suggestion is reviewed and monitored by our guides to ensure that only quality links are added to the search results themselves.”
This is certainly an interesting experiment. But with all of the online health content being pumped out on a daily basis, OrganizedWisdom’s human editors have their work cut out for them. Over time, it will come down to this: time versus computer power. If automated search engines significantly improve (see this previous HealthCareVox article), humans may become irrelevant. I’ll be watching to see how things play out.