Social Search?

Posted by Posted on by
0

“Social” is the buzzword these days. Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, Social News-sites, etc. And so Microsoft is going the Social Way – Social MSN Search. To quote:

“The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends, rather than to get automated lists of results from a generic search engine.”

The article reports that Microsoft will tie up with Eurekster which is community powered Search Engine. Sounds a nice thing to do, especially since a generic search most certainly returns irrelevant results; also the likes of Friendster or Orkut are potential sources of lot of information that’s poorly organized. Sometime back, Seth Godin illustrated this idea in his blogpost Tea. The method wasn’t right but the idea is. Hand-built search engines seem to be doing real good job when it comes to searching for generic search terms and recommendations for them. Digg is a fine example for articles recommended by other readers.

There are several Community powered Search Engines – full list can be found here (under the Search 2.0 Category). Most of them enable “rating” a search result. And the relevance of a search query improves as more people use it. So what is special about this Social Search? In what way is it different from any of the Search 2.0 sites?

Consider an option of buying a camera A or B at a place C or at a place D. There are several shopping websites that give you a price list. So enter the name of the camera you wish to buy, and you shall be able see the results and product reviews by people who bought it. Picture this against posting a question: “Should I buy A or B?” to a community dedicated to Digital Photography. The answer will be personalized and answer your question directly unlike the fifty plus search results.

Another example. This time personal. Recently there was a movie released by the name “The Island” which is a dystopian story. Aldous Huxley wrote a book “Island” which is of a similar theme. I wanted to know if there was a connection. Google and Amazon didn’t provide with satisfactory answers. Orkut’s Aldous Huxley community did. And I didn’t even have to scroll my way through several responses.

Many people turn into search engines for answers to their questions. They do not want search results for a key word. This is where I think community search will make all the difference.

Social Networking

Posted by Posted on by
0

This post’s been brewing for a few weeks now. Google’s acquisition of Writely can be called as a trigger pulse for this post.
Orkut is still a very popular social networking site, atleast among the school and college community (which forms a large group of web users). Since its launch two years back, it has grown in magnitude and it is sort of a social status symbol to have an Orkut Profile, owing to its “Invite only” nature. Although it has grown over the years in terms of the number of users, feature-wise it is still primitive, considering how quickly Google is trying to give it’s products and services a face-lift by using AJAX.

Social Networking sites have a lot of potential, and if only a service with some of the following features were to be introduced, it’ll be a huge success. (Like what Meebo did, and how everyone else was grateful to Meebo for it :) )

Firstly, a strong ‘Search within website’ service. Not only Profile search or Community search, but search for keywords within the Community and Profile – something similar to Blogger Profile Search. The present Social Networking websites do not allow that. For instance, it is not possible to look for all the people who’ve listed ‘Web 2.0′ as an interest in their profile. That should be enabled, for such sites are a hunting ground for people who are looking for fresh talent.

Secondly, a conversation tracker. Newsvine, which was launched recently has a similar feature. A user can find out, which article they commented on recently by a simple mouse-over action on Newsvine home page. Handy. For social networking sites to be useful, there should be provision to find out if anyone has replied to a thread posted (Newsvine does this with a field ‘Comments since you last checked’); also there must be a tracker for all the messages that a user posts a comment.

Although this is quite unnecessary, given the above mentioned two requisites are met, it would be great to have a conversation archiving feature similar to what is offered by Google Talk’s  or Zoho Chat. The archiving feature could store the recent five conversations for easy access and reference.

Probably the poor organization of many social networking sites can be attributed to these reasons.  Many communities contain great resources and not organizing the conversations properly will probably maintain the status of most social networking sites are to be merely a prodigal waste, save for the occasional “stumbling upon a long lost acquaintance” event.