Almost 10 years ago I flew to Santa Clara to attend the World Wide Web 6 Conference. I took with me the March 1997 issue of Scientific American with a series of very interesting Internet related articles.
One of the articles described a new search engine concept. What caught my attention was that the algorithm being used sounded a great deal like Science Citation Index Impact factors. The use of a common library concept for analyzing Internet search results caught my attention. What eventually grew from that concept was a large-scale hypertextual search engine.
The other day I came across a new experimental search tool called ChaCha.
Developed by Scott Jones and Brad Bostic, ChaCha provides two search options. The "Guide" option should be of interest to librarians. By searching with a Guide the query is sent to a "real person" who is "skilled at finding information on the internet and knowledgeable on the subject at hand." "Once connected to a Guide you can chat with him/her to clarify your question. Discussing your question will get more precise results than any other search engine can deliver."
Sounds like a librarian to me. Again, the use of a common library concept for analyzing Internet search results caught my attention.
However, upon further review, ChaCha "Guides" are not librarians or necessarily any level of information professional. The can be college students, retirees, stay-at-home moms. "Guides" are employed as independent consultants in a type of multilevel marketing scheme. In time, Guides recruit other Guides and receive a part of the recruited Guide's earnings. Think Amway.
Newly recruited Guides are matched with areas of personal interest and expertise and assigned a mentor. These "apprentices" do not initially interact with the public and to become "pros" they must pass tests for speed, quality and accuracy. "Pros" interact with the public and are paid $5 per search hour. Those which achieve "Master" level guides are eligible to earn 10% of those they have brought into the ChaCha Underground (the community of guides). Elite-level guides make $10 per search hour.
ChaCha is ad supported by display advertisers and sponsored links.
So, are any librarians out there a part of the ChaCha Underground?
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