Yahoo! Korea presented to Yahoo! Research Berkeley yesterday and showed us some of their work. I was completely blown away, and the meeting left a strange taste in my mouth, something akin to “I wish I lived in Korea.”
Yahoo! provides a service called Site Explorer that allows webmasters to do research on how their site is being linked from the rest of the web. As Jeongeun Lee of Y! Korea put it, “we wanted to make this experience more fun.” They took the metaphor of exploration quite literally, imagining the web to be a universe, putting the user on an interstellar expedition. The result is a service called Webzari, essentially a different interface on the same data. It looks something like this:
Essentially, it goes something like this: web sites are planets whose size is determined by the number of links they have. Planets are attracted to each other based on the links between them, and you are a little space ship that flies around the universe. Check out Webzari in action:
Yellow planets denote websites in Korean while purple ones are “foreign” (and you’ll notice that the flag next to your spaceship changes depending on the planet you’re next to). If you click on a planet you’ll get details about the local flora and fauna and the ability to navigate to this part of the solar system. It may not be as useful for research as Site Explorer, but I have to hand it to them, it is definitely more fun.
By the end of next year I expect that they’ll probably have replicated the entire Spore game system, wherein when you start a blog your posts are little organisms fighting for control of the site. After for a while your links start to appear and suddenly you zoom out to this interface. Eventually your blog will take over the universe and Yahoo! Search will become artificially intelligent, omnipresent, and omnipotent.