Psst … Mahalo has been getting interesting

Mahalo screen shotMahalo, which launched as a beta site at the first of the year, was derided as no match for Google’s algorithms with its “human search engine.”

(Click on image to see a larger version of the screen shot.)

Turns out, Google doesn’t seem to be evolving as its competitor. It’s news sites and maybe Wikipedia. And it’s doing an interesting job of covering and organizing news. Yesterday, a redesign was launched that added Twitter-length news updates — a live blog it’s being called.

I noticed a Twitter post Friday morning from Ryan Sholin that said the site was “is turning into a really interesting news/information mix.”

He’s right.

Newspaper and TV sites would do well to study its topic pages for ideas.

I checked a few high profile stories in Knoxville that have been getting national attention and all of them had smartly designed topic pages on Mahalo: the murder of Jennifer Lee Hampton; the carjacking and murders of Channon Christian and Chrstopher Newsom; and the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. (His team of human editors just isn’t linking to knoxnews enough, which inarguable has the deepest content on all three of these news stories).

Mark Henrickson of TechCrunch said:

When Mahalo launched about 16 months ago, we called it a human-powered search engine and began thinking of it as a Google competitor. But it’s so-called “guide pages” for topics as diverse as the Boston Marathon and Patriotic Drunk Rednecks provide not only links but quick facts, making Mahalo an editor-driven, Wikipedia competitor as well. And with a new site-wide design launching today, Mahalo sharpens its focus on the news cycle and competes more directly with sites like CNN and a multitude of news aggregators.

And Duncan Riley wrote:

Jason Calacanis has relaunched “human search engine” Mahalo as a gigantic blog targeting news that drives traffic in any vertical.

The new Mahalo adopts the magazine style layout currently popular in the blogosophere, aggregating news stories in a layout that is part Google News. There’s even a “live blog” right of screen, which is updated with links to breaking news outside of Mahalo by members of the Mahalo team.    

The brash Jascon Calacanis always bears watching. Not much of what Mahalo is doing is new, but it’s put together in a compelling package. Innovations are often incremental and the fresh ideas often seem to come not from the well-established players.