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onlineinc.com: Humans Do It Better: Inside the Open Directory Project

Jul 09, 2000, 12:54 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Chris Sherman)

"Webs fascinate us. Just as Odysseus' men were dazzled by the allure of Circe's web, so are we powerfully drawn to understand and map the varied and intricate strands of the World Wide Web. Virtually all who come in contact with the Web find themselves to one degree or another creating guides to share its enchantments with others. Ranging from simple lists of links to massive indexes compiled by software driven search engines, the Web seems to bring out the inner librarian in us all."

"Unfortunately, many who take on the daunting task of cataloging the Web find themselves hopelessly ensnared--like Odysseus' men, who succumbed to Circe's enticements only to find themselves transformed into swine. The crew of the Open Directory Project (ODP) has avoided this unfortunate fate, and in the process have seen their efforts gain an unprecedented acceptance. Little more than two years old, the ODP is leading a resurgence of human-compiled Web directories, in the process, toppling spider-compiled search engines from their dominant positions as principal gateways to the Internet."

"The ODP has succeeded by coupling a simple, yet elegant, Web directory to the engine of a grassroots marketing campaign that has won the hearts and captured the minds of millions of Web users. The ODP's straightforward Web directory needs little introduction or explanation. Its workman-like interface and competent search capabilities make it an appropriate tool for searchers at nearly all levels of competence. The truly interesting part of the ODP story lies, not in its mechanics, but in its genesis and evolution, and the behind the scenes goings-on in the inner sanctum of the project."

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