Firstly, Wikipedia didn’t really excite me when I first discovered it. I thought it was cool that there was an online resource I could use for information but having grown up with my World Book encyclopedia set since Primary School and having a really good library in school which I knew how to search effectively, Wikipedia didn’t strike me as a particularly breakthrough piece of work.
However, now, as I come to understand it more than just an online resource of information but an artifact of social interactions unique to this period in human history, I have come to appreciate it more. And actually go whoa when i think about it but it didn’t have that effect on me in the beginning.
Maybe Powerset is going to be another Wikipedia to me. Maybe. For now, I can’t seem to get excited about it. I like the way they have represented the data from Wikipedia and the user interface to discover and learn more information but that is about it. Using Google or using the Wikipedia page of any topic of interest as a starting point works just as well or rather it works just as well for me.
To borrow a bit from Seth Godin, the problem, at least to me, why I can’t seem to get excited about Powerset is that it doesn’t tell the kind of story that Google did when I first used it. Google told a really simple yet effective story when they put this short message at the right of search results:
Results 1 – 10 of about 1,240,000,000 for friends. (0.22 seconds)
The story was simple. There is too much information out there. Google is able to tell you which is the top ten places to get the information for a particular query. And they did it in less than 1 second. Of course, time was spent indexing the web. That’s not factored in. Time was spent developing the algorithm. That’s not factored it either. But the consumer doesn’t care about all that. The consumer cared about the simple story of how fast Google managed to produce the right sort of results after the query was made. That simple message at the upper right of results became the base for people to share about Google.
Powerset has nothing like that. Looking at the way the data is presented, I can’t find a story to tell. Sure, the algorithm is able to understand the indexed content and query. Sure, the information returned is supposedly more relevant to my query. Sure, the techies are all getting excited about the technology powering the service. Sure, there is the story the people responsible for the service are telling at conferences and investor meetings.
But where is the story told on the site. There isn’t one. Yet.