Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Yahoo! Wants to be the BOSS

boss_logo.jpgAside from being the most bitching name for a service enabling Web 2.0 Mashups in recent memory, Yahoo!’s announcement yesterday of BOSS, the Build-your-Own-Search-Service API has some interesting possibilities ahead.

Yahoo! was once upon a time the great name in the Search Engine game. Everyone used them. Then Altavista came along for a short period of time, and finally Google showed up on the scene. Quickly, they became the 800 pound gorilla of the Search Engine game. Sure, Microsoft has tried to push Live search recently, but when I reach for a different search engine to search Microsoft’s own sites, I was never able to fully embrace Live search. So, Google it’s been for most of the last decade.

Still, Google’s been slipping on certain searches recently, mostly due to the number of people who’ve learned to game Google. I understand why they have, Google is the one everyone uses. Googling has quickly become the standard verb for searching the web. And let’s face it, Googling is catchier that Yahooing could ever be. Google does a decent job of detecting people who are gaming them, and preventing the games from working, but it has definitely taken it’s toll.

Yahoo! is using this opportunity to revitalize their search, but after reading about BOSS, I don’t think Yahoo!’s dominance is going to come from becoming a better search engine, which they may do, but through the mashups that BOSS will allow. BOSS, as it’s name suggests, is a web-service that Yahoo! is making available that you can call to get access to Yahoo! search results. Once you have them, you can do anything you want with them. Reorder them, drop results you don’t like, whatever. Then, you present them to the user, on you own page. Unlike Google’s Custom Search, which is useful, BOSS makes you the search engine site, you just get to use Yahoo!’s data.

The launch mashups of BOSS are interesting, though not terribly revolutionary, at least to me. Me.dium seeks to watch what users are searching for to create an experience based on buzz-words. Think Digg for Search, I guess. Cluuz seeks to create a tag-cloud based searching experience. I just see this as more Web 2.0 bullshit with fancy names and some garbage about the community, but Yahoo! is allowing companies to try to reinvent search without having to actually reinvent search. Search engines are a pain in the ass. They require a huge amount of data. Being able to leverage something else for that data is simply awesome.

BOSS has the potential to change the way we search, and I have a few ideas in that space. We’ll see what comes out of it, and frankly, I really think this is an awesome move on Yahoo!’s part. Let’s see how it plays out. Oh, and one more reason I really hope that Icahn fails.