Miller was handpicked by the Wikia project’s founder, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales.
“Jimmy sat down in January after he announced his intention to start this and said for it to succeed two things had to happen,” Wikia CEO Gil Penchina told LinuxInsider. “One, it had to be a collaborative project. It can’t turn into one company trying to take on the big search players. And two, it had to have someone who has led a major open source project before.”
That description matches Miller’s bona fides. He is not only recognized as the inventor of Jabber, but also of the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), which allows instant messaging platforms to interoperate, and users to communicate freely and safely.
“The Internet and Web are founded on completely open principles,” said Miller. “I’ve championed this philosophy for instant messaging and believe that the awesome power of search should be based on the same fundamental rules.”
Piece by Piece
Miller’s first task will be to develop the necessary infrastructure to allow a thousand or so volunteer developers to contribute to the project, Penchina said.
“Search breaks down into lots of problems — collecting and organizing data, picking algorithms, and so on,” he noted, adding that end users should have a choice in deciding which solution works best.
“If you think there is a better indexing system, you should be allowed to plug and play it. The consumer should be able to decide,” said Penchina.
As for further project benchmarks, “those are Jeremie’s calls now,” he remarked. “I can tell you that we will start to see more communication among the developers — we will start building out more project roadmaps.”
The first push will be for the developers, which means that Google doesn’t have to worry just yet about being displaced.
“Linux during its first year wasn’t a lot of fun for consumers to use on the desktop,” Penchina recalled.
In the end, though, consumers are the initiative’s target group.
“I believe Internet search is currently broken,” stated Wales, “and the way to fix it is to build a community whose mission is to develop a search platform that is open and totally transparent.”