In Search of The Mavens

Yahoo’s announcement of dropping bookmarking service Delicious had many users scrambling to find alternatives. Being one of then, I eventually exported my links to pinboard. We’ll see if that was necessary but I hold hope that Delicious will indeed find another home.

It’s unfortunate that one of the many benefits of delicious was never exploited. To me, it had the potential of finding the Mavens, the “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.” Check out the sidebar, “How ReadWriteWeb Used Delicious,” from ReadWriteWeb’s “R.I.P. Delicious: You Were So Beautiful to Me" and you’ll see what I mean. (HT @ J Robinson)

Essentially, their sorting mechanism allowed them to find The Mavens:

Then we subscribed to the RSS feeds of all those peoples’ bookmarks in the future. We regularly find things that way before our competitors do.

I wonder, however, if there’s a way to go beyond this set of early Mavens. Rather than “grab URLs for companies and products,” it’ll be great if we can grab the URL based on the ones we bookmark or tag similarly. Of course, this may not lead to serendipitous discovery. Often times, you may find folks who are too similar to you.

However, if there was a way to discover beyond your immediate circle of influence, this list of Mavens might expose some very interesting finds. I did a presentation on this awhile back and used this slide to help illustrate how it might work.

Imagine, for example, that “cooking” was one of my frequently used tags. I might find value in a Maven that frequently tagged articles with “vegetables” but a serendipitous find might have come from a Maven that was really into “gardening” and so forth.

Essentially, your Mavens may have their own Mavens based on tangentially related topics. Those in the first and second circle of Mavens are your customized curators for web content. Finding and sorting their links will ultimately you save time and lead you to discover a new perspective beyond the typical echo chamber.

Update (1/9/2011)

Since Flipboard has yet to launch its semantic integration, could appeal to those who need more than just an attractive layout of the news, or even popular trends, but need to find the news that’s highly relevant to them.

And, yes, it’s a need.

Update (10/29/2011)

I joined Pinterest last month. And although I’m not active, I can see how this could get interesting if the masses were to “collect” here, sort of speak. I especially like the ability to not simply save the URL as in delicious, but to “save” a discrete piece of media. In Pinterest, it’s currently images only. But I can imagine a much more powerful discovery engine if folks can “save” a collection of quotes or paragraphs in a sharable service. Pinterest also highlights the original “Pinner” of that particular piece of content. In Search of The Mavens can be that much closer.