What’s Goby all about anyway? On the surface, Goby is a search engine for things to do in your free time. The travel industry has invested hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in helping you get a hotel room and plane ticket – but hotels and plane rides aren’t why people travel – they travel for experiences. Finding experiences is tough – the information is scattered around the web, locked away in domain-specific databases, and often with poor user experiences and bad information architecture. And we’ve all had the experience of sitting around on a Friday night trying to decide what to do over the weekend – essentially the same problem. Goby crawls the web looking for high quality sources of information about all kinds of experiences, covering both traditional travel content (tours, attractions, lodging) as well as more local-oriented things to do (like music, theater, restaurants, museums, hiking trails, surfing spots and skiing…). We then take those results and contextualize them, by geolocating the results and putting them on a map, cross-referencing photography from around the web, and converting those web pages we found into real-world objects you can make decisions about.
Under the covers, Goby is a structured data, task-centric search engine. Over the years there has been continuous interest in the tech & business communities around “what is the next Google?”. In my view there won’t be a “next Google” in search, if by that one means a market-dominating, universally applicable search engine. The future of search is task-centric information access, that supports both findability and exploration in the context of specific objectives – say, finding a new book to read, deciding what neighborhood to move to, getting your next job or deciding where to eat. The shortcoming of major search engines is that, while they can happily parse your query and give you some web pages to read, they have no idea what you are trying to accomplish – and therefore cannot adapt their experience to support your task. You can see this trend happening with Goby (search engine for your free time), and with other interesting products like Milo (product search will real-time store inventory), and the very interesting Hunch ( a general purpose recommendation/decision engine).
The other major dimension to how people consume information is through social media – tools that integrate search & social media have the opportunity to bring the engagement of social media to the findability of search. Look for more on this from Goby in the future.