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TrendSpot: The Rise of Human Search Filters

The Trend:
The same perceived lack of structure on the web that originally led Jerry Yang to create the first Yahoo Internet Directory is causing one of the most prevalent trends online today, the rise of human search filters.  Search engines are getting more sophisticated as algorithms get refined for every new spammers trick – to try and keep search results relevant.  But a key ingredient of relevance is credibility, and no online algorithm has yet become adept at identifying which sources of information are trustworthy.  As a result, many services have come up in recent months to help individuals share their own filter of the web with others.  From Blogrolls on blogs, to personalized shopping lists on Yahoo’s Shoposphere, to lenses on particular topics at Seth Godin’s latest project (Squidoo) — relying on humans to filter information has never been hotter, or easier.  As Squidoo’s tagline says … everyone’s an expert on something.

The Proof:

  1. Yahoo Shoposphere, Rollyo and Squidoo are just a few of the many sites allowing users to create and share their own searchable aggregation of Internet sources on any topics.
  2. Ecommerce sites like and are focusing on building their database of customer reviews for products – and people are reading and being influenced by them
  3. The Web 2.0 idea of an online environment easier to browse and find information is growing as more content creators are tagging their content using standardized systems like Flickr or Technorati and add "like content" features to blogs such as Blogrolls and reading lists.
  4. Online wikis like Wikipedia or the PR Wiki are allowing multiple users to add their collective knowledge into a single source which can serve as a searchable information source for any online user
  5. Celebrities are going online, with blogs, celebrity playlists in iTunes, or creating searchrolls — all giving another filter to content and allowing users to be like their heroes and do stuff like workout to the same tunes as Jennifer Garner.

The Bottom Line:
As more and more content is created on the web, people are increasingly turning to trusted individuals and sources beyond search engines to help find truly relevant and credible online information sources.

This is the first in a new series of posts on the I2M blog looking at trends in Interactive Marketing.  All posts on this topic will be filed under the TRENDSPOT in the category list at right.

4 thoughts on “TrendSpot: The Rise of Human Search Filters”

  1. Great point, Piers. The more subjective filters for information like the ones you mentioned certainly offer another strong example of how humans are providing order to the vast range of content on the web. Some, like, have clearly even moved beyond being just a search resource and are now destination sites with loyal readers.

  2. Another such “filters” are the public collections of links -hosted on sites like– on specific topics, that are intentionally designed to serve as a resource on a specific theme. Examples:
    – my PR Digest collection of links, where I bookmark relevant articles, studies, academic resources and blog entries found in my personal collection of feeds and by browsing 400+ PR blogs
    Eric Eggertson‘s links
    Piaras Kelly‘s links
    Jeremy Pepper‘s BlogRun.


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