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The Unavoidable Reason Social Search Can’t Work Alone

It’s tempting to think that some kind of social search could topple Google but I don’t think Twitter search or anything similar will ever truely replace traditional search entirely.

I think what will happen is there will be a blurring between what is social and what is search. It’s been around for years already but universal search, I think, was the first big step on what will become an inevitable journey, but I can’t see a purely ‘social’ search engine catching on.

Google was Academic vs Digg is like the charts

I like to think about the way the Google algorhythm works  very similarly to the world of academia. If you write a paper with your latest theory you might get some readers but if the big players in your discipline read and promote your work, then your paper could receive even more attention and the more you’ll get credence and respect in the future.
The bigger those names are and the more readers they have, the more trusted you’ll become and the more people will take your findings seriously. It works well as an analogy of search.

Digg and social media sites are much more like the pop charts. And like academia is seperate from pop culture, but getting closer, I think we’ll see the same in search/social

Mob Effect

It’s very easy to whip-up a mob mentality in social media. Over 10 thousand people signed a petition via twitter to reduce the cost of the new iPhone for people already on a contract. Most people know this is unlikely, but they signed up anyway. If you sign up for a 18 month contract you’re obligated for 18 months, but in the heat of the moment it’s easy to get caught up in the mob.

1%ers aren’t Representative

A great book I read a year or so ago brought to my attention to the concept of the 1%-ers. These are the people who go out of their way to partcipate in and create content on social sites. And the simple fact is 1% of people don’t represent the whole. They are different so don’t represent everyone. There’s a similar flaw in Google’s algorhythm (not everyone has a website) but I think it is becoming more apparent in social media.

Doesn’t Stop the Popular Becoming More Popular

Some people think it will democratise media. Wrong. It’ll probably just make the popular more popular. It’s common knowledge that more big media gets airtime on sites like digg now than it ever did in the past. They have got their fingers burnt, changed their policy slightly, and are now benefiting from the additional traffic.

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1 Comment
  • Ed on September 5, 2009

    This is a really interesting article.
    I´ve always thought that algorithmic search would remain strong in regards to social search. But thought that social search would surge ahead. But been changing my mind about this recently (without thinking that social search will not ever be important). That´s because i think social media has been made into something bigger than it really is. Sure it´s big, a phenomen. But i´m beginning to see the novelty factor wear off a bit. Teenagers in the UK, for example (can´t remember source off-hand right now) are turning away in significant numbers to be of notice (if adults embrace something that teenagers do, then teenagers will often try and move away from that). But just from my personal perspective i sometimes just want to do and think something else other than ´social´whatever. Quite happy for example to go to Google for most things for recommendations (no doubt others are the same and that the dependence on social recommendations will diminish to a degree in time too).
    Also, excellent point about Digg.

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