Social Search?

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“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.

Newsvine

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Newsvine was launched a couple of days back and is running full steam ahead. For the uninitiated, Newsvine is a social News website that features stories from Main Stream Media and amateur writers alike. The best part about Newsvine, apart from the AJAX interface for Seeders or people who submit content, is that it is a comment and chat enabled site. Which means readers can comment, discuss and argue about a news item, apart from contributing their own. Also, using the ‘Link’, option, a person can link to a story from a popular news site or cross-post a blog entry. Tagging is the new web standard, and Newsvine is no exception. They have something called the “Code of Honor” which is a rule book that, apart from the usual instruction, says, “Write descriptive Title” and “Tag correctly”

Clearly, Newsvine is an improvisation of existing News Aggregators. And they are trying to organize News better with current web trends like Tagging. Also, by having both popular news sources and bloggers seed [contribute to] their site, they are having the best of both – the authority and variety. Smart.

Oh, and did I mention that they have web-based live chat enabled to their site? Something like 3Bubbles.(via) So it’s Reading/Writing/Commenting/Arguing/Having a live discussion all under one roof. Now when a popular news source makes a mistake in an editorial, correcting them is a few keystrokes and a click away.