Can you Kayak a marathon--or a jail?
A recently launched start-up called FindTheBest takes the comparison engine model that Kayak made popular and attempts to apply it to everything else on the face of the planet. It might work.
It became a bit of a joke at the height of Web 2.0 speculation that entrepreneurs would scramble to craft an elevator pitch as "a Facebook for this" or "a Digg for that." (See also: ItsThisForThat.com.) Well, one start-up believes that it can be "a Kayak for everything"--and, really, that is actually the best way to describe it.
It's called FindTheBest, and it has made it its task to create a comparison app for everything--from jails (you can compare prisons by capacity percent, or by number of juveniles held as adults) to cat breeds (from Abyssinian to Turkish Van).
Built by DoubleClick co-founder Kevin O'Connor and originally launched last month, FindTheBest continues to add new comparison apps to its database at breakneck pace so that its directory now includes about 400 categories to pick apart. Some are legitimately useful on a mainstream level, like fast-food calorie counters and college rankings. Others are extremely niche, such as "Construction Project Management Software." I don't really want to think about who's browsing "Age of Consent Laws By State."
As a distance runner, a marathon comparison app piqued my interest--informing me of relevant tidbits, such as the fact that about 5,000 crazy people brave a 2,563-foot elevation change and run the St. George Marathon in Utah every year. One item that FindTheBest is missing is how many of them actually finish the race; that crucial missing point ties into something O'Connor envisions, as the site evolves, hoping that experts in the various fields can help contribute to apps that are currently powered primarily by publicly available data.
On a broader level, FindTheBest seems like a feature fit for integration into Wikipedian esoterica, so that "List of fatal bear attacks in North America by decade" or "List of common misconceptions" could have some sort of ranking and sorting built in. It also shows some promise as a source for random fact generation, or that if you're looking for a decently strenuous hiking trail in New York City, you'll probably have to venture over to Staten Island.