I recently wrote a BloggingStocks post about Yahoo's recent deal with Zillow, an online real estate company. My take was that the deal was a sign that Yahoo is getting serious about mining its huge amount of data. The data, in fact, is getting much more interesting with such new social networking properties as Flickr, Del.icio.us and so on.
Well, this week, Yahoo hired Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan, who will become a vice president and Yahoo research fellow. He is certainly a brain, having worked as a computer science professor at the University of Wisconsin and co-founded the Data Mining Institute. There is also a scholarly paper trail, with over 150 technical papers, as well as a definitive book on data mining, Database Management Systems.
Although, he does venture into the real world. In the late 1990s, for example, he co-founded a collaborative software company, called QUIQ.
You can get more detail on him at his web site.
Basically, his mandate will be to push "social search." Think of this as leveraging the "wisdom of crowds."
That is, as user-generated-content grows – with things like videos, blogging and even Yahoo Answers – search is ready for major change. True, Google's PageRank is solid, but it will probably not be the method for the long haul.
So, while Microsoft and Yahoo greatly lag Google in the search game, there is still hope. And, it probably lies in academics who are pioneering data mining.