The Evolution of White Pages: Facial Recognition? announced the release of their API this morning:

In this open alpha stage, we’re letting any developer tap into our face detection and face recognition tech through simple REST API calls. Whether you’re looking to build a cool photo tagging application, create personalized e-cards or campaigns, or any other sci-fi idea that comes to mind, we’re here to serve.

via Announcing our new, free, open API |

What it means: how about a mobile application which enables you to take a picture of someone you’re meeting face to face, recognize that individual and download that person’s contact information (with their permission) in your phone instantly. That sounds like the evolution of traditional people (white pages) search, no? Seems like there would  be dozens of ideas to reinvent people search with such an API.

Residential Search is About to be Disrupted

On Monday, Yahoo Search launched improvements to their search engine including something they call the “search assist“. Like some other bloggers, I wasn’t too impressed until one of my friends showed me how you could use it in the context of people search.

If you do a search for my name on Yahoo and trigger the search assist, you can now see concepts associated with my name. The keywords Linkedin, Facebook, Robert Scoble, local search, social networks, blog archive, online media and product management appear in the search assist screen. As my public face on the web is mostly professional, all these keywords are bang on and offer a good representation of who I am on the web:

Linkedin: I’m a heavy Linkedin user and the site has a great SEO strategy.

Facebook: I’ve blogged about Facebook a lot during the summer and some of my ideas had big impacts in the blogosphere.

Local search and social networks: my job and what I blog about.

Online media and product management: my job.

Robert Scoble: I discovered what Robert was doing with Facebook and blogged about it, creating an important Web meme.

Yahoo Search Assist

The people-search site Spock uses tags to convey the same kind of related information. Unfortunately, on a search for my name, the info is much more limited as it comes only from my Linkedin profile. It misses a large portion of my other online activities, most notably the blogging.


What it means: structured business data has always been the bread and butter of the directory industry but most publishers have put their residential search function on the side, not really caring about it. Be careful! Residential or people search is a great traffic driver into your ecosystem of web sites and many people are after that traffic. By introducing structured people search, Yahoo, Spock and others are making it much more relevant. Residential search is about to be disrupted.