Creativity 50 2010: Damon Horowitz

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Search has radically changed information gathering, but Damon Horowitz knew there was much more than what algorithms and a go-to query box could answer.

"There's a lot of content on the web today, but not everything is on the web," Mr. Horowitz said. "A lot of knowledge is locked in people's heads."

To get at that treasure trove, Mr. Horowitz and co-founders Max Ventilla, Nathan Stoll and Rob Spiro created Aardvark. Users ask questions in plain speak through, instant-message programs, Twitter, an iPhone app or e-mail, and the service pings friends and contacts gleaned from Facebook or an e-mail address book for the answer. In Aardvark's words, social search is throwing a question to the "village," while Google is scanning the "library."

And Google took notice. The search giant acquired the startup in February, only months after Aardvark launched for public use in late 2009. The next step is formulating a product that integrates Aardvark with Google search, meaning social search is coming to a query box near you.

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