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Tuesday, 3rd August 2010

You Might Know Her Name But You Know Her Work, Srinija Srinivasan Leaves Yahoo

Note: At the conclusion of the Search Engine Land post, Gary share a few comments and 12 examples of some great human compiled, edited, organized, and maintained directories (both general and topic specific) that focus on quality and credibility of the sites in the directory vs. quantity. We could have gone on much longer with more resources but we stopped at twelve. Info pros should be promoting these first-rate directories at the same time we market and promote our libraries and the resources we provide. In fact, the human judgment that goes into the selection of web resources is an idea we believe people will want even more moving forward.

From a Search Engine Land Article:

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, the most powerful person in search was arguably Yahoo’s Srinija Srinivasan. If Yahoo’s was the “gateway” to the web in the way some think Google is today, Srinivasan was the chief gatekeeper. And now after 15 years, she’s leaving Yahoo.

[Snip]

Srinivasan oversaw this entire process. Where Google later has its PageRank algorithm and computer “spiders” that automatically crawled billions of pages across the web, Yahoo had Srinivasan and an army of human editors who hand-organized the web.

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Yahoo, in contrast, wasn’t about the sheer volume of content. It was about listing the best of the web. That helped it stand well above the other players in popularity, in my belief, because it was well above them in relevancy.

In fact, Yahoo sparked a number of human-based imitators. The Open Directory. LookSmart. Snap. In fact, in 1999, I was even quoted as saying that year was the year the human-powered directories had won. And they had. For the first time, more search engines were “powered” by human results than crawler-based ones, as this good News.com piece from the time explains.

The directories were doomed and began dying. Today, none of the major search engines out there are powered by human results. The Yahoo Directory still exists, but you have to hunt to find it at Yahoo. Do a search, and there’s not even a reference to some of Yahoo’s directory categories, as there once was.

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Access the Complete Search Engine Land Article

In, "Reflecting Back, Looking Forward," Srinija Srinivasan Blogs:

We pioneered a new profession: Web Surfer. Categorizing sites of every stripe was hardly a perfunctory exercise; we understood that the sum total of our myriad, minute choices — what we include, what we call things, where we put things, how we describe things — reveals a point of view. The mere act of aggregation is creation; aggregation has a voice. In our aim to be a helpful guide to the Web, we confronted the politics of classification, and how it can illuminate human conflict.

In embarking on the task of bringing order to so much information, we established foundational principles for the voice of Yahoo!, which are as relevant today as they were when the Web was new: Be simple, clear, direct. Be useful, inclusive, and provide context, not judgment.

See Also: Gary Shares a Few Comments and 12 Human Built Directories at the Conclusion of the Search Engine Land Post

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