Newsweek is on it, so it must actually be real now (and mainstream. I'm starting to wonder if it can even be hip anymore).
Ugh. You know what I hate? Silicon Valley terms. Vocabulary out of Wired. What was XML and P2P is now AJAX and Web 2.0. I swear, this time it'll revolutionize everything.
Now that I've crabbed about Web 2.0, let me gush over one of its offspring.
Yelp has been rocking my world. I had heard of (and used) it before, but I never really got it. But this isn't surprising. Why would I be in any position to get what's upcoming and cool? I work on an "app for your mom."
A few weeks ago, I somehow stumbled back to it and saw Yelp Map-tastic (yes, technohipsters, that's a mashup. Gold star for you). And then I got it.
Moving to a new neighborhood, it's been invaluable. I got my hair cut the other day at Male Image (a very different experience from talking basketball with Don at the College Barbershop). I can find hardware stores. Clothing shops. And I get the highest-rated results in an arbitrary map window, which is ideal for finding things within walking distance.
But most importantly, Yelp has kept me from starving to death. I'm a bachelor in the city and can hardly operate a microwave, so I've kept from starving by taking leisurely walks to Lower Haight, the The Castro, and the upper Mission and trying out the restaurants.
Update: I've been thinking about it. Yelp is to Google Local as Google is to (circa 1998) AltaVista.
In the web search problem, the collecting and indexing problems are, while massive, the easy parts. The key insight of Google was PageRank, which solves the ordering-by-relevance problem, which is what kept web search from really being useful. Thank heavens there's a nice elegant little algorithmic solution to the problem.
There isn't a nice algorithmic solution like that for ranking location data. So what is the solution? Collaboration and participation. Get the users to generate that data for you. That's the novel thing about Yelp.