Click, and You Shall Find

December 1999
by Reid Goldsborough

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If you approach the Web as a library rather than a shopping mall, video arcade, or discussion
circle, you need some way of quelling the riot of information you’ll find there.

Portals such as Yahoo are one attempt to make the Web more manageable, aggregating content and
services in the hope that you’ll stick around. But you’re often better off surfing beyond their narrow
confines.
For some years now, search sites have tried to bring order to the Web’s anarchic abundance. But
serving up just the information you’re looking for (and avoiding the litter of irrelevancy) is a tall
order. And even the best search sites penetrate only so far into the Web’s awesome depths. As a result
of these problems, some of information technology’s best minds have been working at overcoming the
limitations of the Web searches that we have been doing thus far.

Two Ends of the Spectrum
Among the more interesting developments in this area, ironically, are sites that downplay
technology in favor of the human touch.

 

At Allexperts.com, at http://www.allexperts.com, you first drill down to the category of
information you’re interested in, such as insurance or photography. Then you select a volunteer, based
upon his or her profile, who will receive your inquiry. More than 1,500 volunteers work with the site,
providing answers free of charge. If you need more comprehensive service, volunteers can offer
themselves as consultants for a fee.

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