Here's something that pretty much everyone has had happen to them (or, at least you can relate to it): You do some search on the Internet and find you're way to an audio or video file. But, when you get there, the name of the file has pretty much nothing to do with what you're searching for. As it turns out though, somewhere deep inside the video, is the needle that you've been looking for in a haystack. Well, if that haystack is the collection of 240 YouTube, Guba, or Google video-like video sites on the Web (most of which only keep track of what's stored on their own domains) and the needle is some 15 seconds of audio or video that's buried deep inside some multimedia content on one of those sites, then Dabble may be able to help you sort through the chaff to get to the wheat.
Yes -- there are other video search sites on the Web. But, where Dabble founder and CEO Mary Hodder says her company is different is that it leverages the best that the read/write Web and the social Web have to offer by letting users manage the sort of tagging and categorization that enables such granular searches of what's otherwise very opaque content. After a year of development and testing, Hodder and her seven person team (mostly engineers) launched Dabble today and I caught up with her by telephone for a podcast interview. The interview can be downloaded, played back using the streaming player at the top of this blog, or, if you're subscribed to ZDNet's IT Matters series of podcasts, it'll be downloaded to your system or MP3 player automatically (see ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in).
During the interview, Hodder told me that even though the site is initially focused on video, it will also be covering other forms of multimedia content including audio. But it's the social network -- the type of ecosystem that Hodder is intimately familiar with as a blogging consultant and the author of napsterization.org -- that Hodder feels sets Dabble apart. Said Hodder in the interview:
But in addition [to the search capabilities you'd find on other video search services], we've really tightly integrated a social network. So, from a user perespective, I could go to Dabble and I could just collect media that I'm interested in. It helps me to organize it. I can put the tags on it that I like, change things. But when I go to search, I'm also getting some enhanced search results because of the things that people do in the social site -- the organizational part of the site. Because it's tightly integrated, we can draw on the things that people do. So, if I make a playlist with five videos and I call those the best How-To videos for cooking souffles, or the best skateboarding videos, that's a really strong indication that those videos are going to fulfill somebodies needs if they go to search for skateboarding [or souffles]. So Dabble can pull those playlist indicators out and put them back into search results. So you really don't have to be a user of the social site to benefit from it.
Launching a few weeks out, Hodder expects Dabble to include an embedded media player. The company is dotting the i's and crossing the t's on some deals with some of the hosting outfits that specialize in video. According to Dabble, if they don't get permission to play certain video back in Dabble's embedded player, Dabble's users will simply have to go directy to the host's site instead. But that won't preclude those videos from shoing up in the Dabble search engine. In fact, the library of searchable videos can include anything including TV shows and videos.
While Dabble survives on seed funding, the site's business model will be primarily ad-driven. Search results cannot be bought. However, much like Google, relevant paid ads will appear off to the side. Perhaps the thing that's most compelling abou this approach, if you ask me is that relevance-based ad surfacing is a bit of a black art. Even with text (making video that much harder). But, with Dabble's users adding their own tags to video, the relevance of any contextually served ads should theoretically improve (as long as the integrity of the tags are preserved).