Over at MakeUseOf I read about a recently-launched resource called
Mashpedia. Though it might sound like a wiki for potato recipes, it is actually a cool tool from gathering reference information from several places into one easily-scanned page. It lives at http://mashpedia.com/.
The front page shows you some hot searches but you can also do a keyword search. This is topical searching, so think directory-level searches, not anything complicated like you might do for a full-text search engine. I did a search for Ben Franklin.
The resulting page pulled together a variety of information for me, including Wikipedia details, videos from YouTube, two tabs’ worth of content from Digg, a Twitter feed, photos from Flickr, what looks like feeds from Google News and Google Images, and even a book search result. Every set of information resides in its own collapsible section; you can also set sections to show only one result or to show all results (the “all results” actually paginate so you’re not going to get a giant scrolling page.)
Now, the search for Ben Franklin had mixed results. On the other hand, it started off with a great Wikipedia article, the quotes pages in the Web results were good, his autobiography popped up in the Google Books section, and there were actually a lot of relevant YouTube and Flickr results. On the other hand the name “Benjamin Franklin” has bene used for so many things that there was a lot of gunk in the results as well. I tried a second Mashpedia search for something less ambiguous — Butler University (congratulations on your great NCAA basketball season.) These results were much more focused, except the Digg results were a little odd (looked like the words were being searched for separately.)
This would make a handy quick reference. It could be even handier if some of the searches could be focused more for ambiguous terms (it might be tough, though.) I also wonder if some of Yahoo’s Web services wouldn’t be a wonderful match for the existing offerings here? I’m thinking specifically of the Term Extraction Service.