SAsk.com's latest revamp, unveiled by CEO Jim Safka to the New York Times, attempts to dive deeper into the Web, pulling "structured data," a fashionable buzzword, from sources like TV listings and health databases. Give Barry Diller's scrappy search engine, owned by his IAC conglomerate, this much: When at first it doesn't succeed, it tries, tries, tries again. But you can't blame the market, or users, for finding all this trying, well, trying.Safka's example — a search for the popular tween star Miley Cyrus which yields TV listings for her Hannah Montana show — looks convincing, at first glance. Neither Yahoo nor Google show TV listings in the first page of search results. But Googling "Miley Cyrus TV listings" readily pulls up a page on TVGuide.com. Ask.com's strategy relies on the notion that a small team of engineers and product managers can guess what users want, find the right databases to pull the information from, and assemble it more effectively than the dominant search engine's algorithms. It's a romantic notion of man vs. machine. But I seem to recall John Henry died at the end.
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