New Q&A apps shift search away from algorithms and back toward people.
Google first launched in 1998. Since then, the internet has evolved in countless ways. What would the search engine look like if it had been built with the Snapchat generation in mind?
Jelly, a Q&A platform from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, is one of several new platforms to ask that question. Jelly launched in April as “a new kind of search engine” that blends technology with human intelligence. Users submit questions anonymously, which are answered directly by the Jelly community. Jelly builds on sites like Quora by using AI to direct questions to relevant users, shaving minutes off time spent wading through Google search results.
“The core assumption of classic web search is that for every question there is a document published on the Internet that’s good enough,” Stone said in a Bloomberg interview in October. “But you know a lot of stuff. And you haven’t published everything you know on the Internet. So we can find you, and we can deliver you a question you know the answer to.”
Jelly not only offers a more efficient way to search, but more personalized answers directly informed by experience. Consumers are getting used to having real-time access to live-streaming expert video feeds through apps like YouNow or Snapchat. Other new search platforms are hoping to capitalize on this popularity through video searches.
Launched this week, Yam is a video Q&A app from entrepreneur Michael Cho. Users offer a bid to ask experts and influencers questions, or pay $0.05 to watch previous answers. Whale, a new app from Twitch founder Justin Kan, lets influencers set their own price to answer questions in personalized video Q&As.
“Our ultimate vision for Whale might be described as Quora for the Snapchat generation,” Kan wrote on his website. “As selfie video has become part of the cultural zeitgeist, the perceived cost of production of video has actually become less than that of text: it’s easier to take a short video of yourself than sit down and write a blog post.”
Like livestreaming video, human-based search platforms facilitate emotional depth and immediacy beyond what search engines or even journalists can provide. Yam, which aims to re-center the search process on storytelling, features as one of its key influencers Abdulkhafi Alhamdo, a father who shares videos from Aleppo, Syria.
Google likely won’t go the way of the dinosaur any time soon. But new search platforms challenge our fundamentals in an age of connection, showing the possibilities for better search integration with mobile technology and conversational platforms like Amazon’s Echo. As technology advances, the fundamentals of connection are still up for grabs.