At DEMOfall 07 Attendi is introducing a search service with a "human" touch. Attendi touts itself as the "world’s first search engine to search real people—not experts or Web pages." I'm not sure that promoting a search engine as powered by real people rather than real experts is a great idea. I actually prefer to get answers from experts or search engine algorithms that deliver results based on wisdom from the more informed crowd.
According to the press release, Attendi's goal is to "personify" the Internet:
By integrating a real-time chat tool into its search results, Attendi aims to personify the Internet, creating a global social network of active participants that make up a living search engine. Attendi allows users to have real-time conversations with those who share similar interests, hobbies, passions and expertise. The company then archives these conversations and delivers them as relevant search results to benefit other users.
It's basically a social search engine, dependent on a community of active user/experts who contribute their knowledge for the archive. Users create profiles, including their interests and they become part of the information resource pool. Members of the Attendi community can initiate live chats to get immediate responses to queries--like a real-time Yahoo Answers. Query results are sorted by relevance, availability of members to chat and the "Attendi's" reputation rating.
Attendi expects to generate ad revenues from sponsorships for search topics, and ads that are served during real-time interactions between a brand and prospective customers. Attendi also plans to enable users to aggregate profiles and availability across different social networks.
"Over time, Attendi will become a living ultra-blog of human experience.” company CEO David Rayman said. It's an ambitious goal. Attendi isn't going to muscle into Google's search territory and with so many other social networks the startup will be challenged to develop a sufficiently large and vibrant community to deliver outstanding search results.
As Wikipedia has proven, the few create the content for the many, but what will drive the many to seek answers on Attendi? Even if the Attendi community doesn't reach critical mass, I expect that sites such as Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, with tens of millions of members, would find the Attendi social search mechanism a compelling feature to add into their networks.