CNET News.com: AOL may chip away at Ask Jeeves, local guides

“Convinced it has a hit with its Open Directory of Web sites,
America Online is considering using a similar development model to
create a local restaurant guide and a natural-language query
database to compete with Ask Jeeves….”

The Open Directory is a so-called open-development project,
analogous to the type of “open source” software development
projects that gave rise to the Linux operating system and the
Apache Web server.

“Under an open-development model, people volunteer their labor
to create the product–in Open Directory’s case, a directory of Web
sites–and in return, the project’s organizer provides the finished
product under a free license to whoever wants to use it–including
competing companies.”

“Many open-development projects launched by corporations have
stalled, failing to rally volunteers the way the grassroots Linux
and Apache efforts have. But Open Directory, acquired under the
name NewHoo by Netscape Communications before AOL acquired
Netscape, has proved to be one of the Internet’s most successful
open-development projects with corporate roots.”

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