May 12th, 2009 by Michael Bauer
I know this was a typo, Turing YP Sites into Recommendations Engines at Screenwerk but I wouldn’t hesitate to say Greg is not only purposefully but accidentally prescient. His post was precipitated by Sebastien’s post I Have Seen the Future of Local Media (and it is us, if I might say, with a little nod to Pogo – we have met the enemy and he is us). Yep, no doubt the time is coming where it is as easy to ask for recommendations from friends online as it is in person. As we go online we have the benefit of asking progressively larger and proportionately more socially distant groups of people for their opinions. What you gain in numbers you lose in relevancy as the larger and further you go the less people know about you and the particular relevance of recommendations to you personally. This is why I do agree that building a recommendation framework within YP sites is the way to go.
I see the future distinction between YP and Search Engines like Google in much the same way I see the distinction between Google and WolframAlpha. One does text search through documents the other does query resolution through databases. A simplification, for sure, but it points in the direction of how YP needs to move from business name lookup (already lost to Google) and simple category perusal (rapidly losing to Google and verticals) to more of an on-going problem-solving partner. In that case, YP has an advantage if it’s able to leverage more knowledge of its users, to become one of their trusted partners, to become the hub of the recommendation network for consumers.
I see a combination of a social recommendation network and a problem-solving recommendation engine that can support word-of-mouth, facilitate merchant participation and provide a place for an intelligent third-party broker. I doubt such a thing would pass the Turing Test, but it would be an intelligent step forward.