According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, snide websites like “Let Me Google That For You” are no fun and maybe even old hat. That’s why he created Jelly, a new social search engine that utilizes your social networks – as well as friends of friends – to help users seek out answers to queries. In addition, it makes inventive use of photos; you and your savvy friends can zoom, crop, annotate, and draw on images to make everything more specific. Algorithmic search engines still have a poor grasp on the semantics of images, so this is a particularly important feature for the current technological landscape. Questions and their accompanying threads can also be forwarded outside of your network to anyone in the world, just in case your friends are unable to get you your answers.
There are still some huge and unexpected advantages to discovering an answer to a question through a kindred soul, or answering such a question yourself. As the company’s blog post announcing the product pointed out, Albert Einstein once famously said, “Information is not knowledge.” Getting at some answers can requires hours of trawling through search engine hits and coming across outdated or unvetted information. Conversely, your friends can tailor their responses to you and your specific situation, and they add a fun affective dimension to information that can help you separate wheat from the chaff. On your end, it’s fun to contribute to an online knowledge community, and it can help you make use of obscure hobbies and areas of knowledge you may have. Who knows, you might even make a friend or two.