The social media revolution (in 15 minutes)

Scoble is right – Google type search will loose its dominance
September 3, 2007, 4:04 pm
Filed under: My stuff

A few days ago A-list blogger, Robert Scoble, put up a post in the form of three videos which have created quite a stir. The essence of the clips was that machine based search (i.e. Google) was going to be replaced by forms of social search (i.e. Facebook and Mahalo) – something he calls a Social Graph. Most of the reaction has been negative – with various techy types taking issue with the details of his analysis and of course there have been howls of protest from the search engine optimisation community, which by now is a significant industry in itself. To try and prove a point, Scoble also tried to post his information in such a way as to make it invisible to search – a tactic which backfired, because Google actually found it pretty quick and of course all the reaction to it became highly visible.

However, Scoble is almost certainly right in the direction of his thinking – even if the details are askew (not that I would know).

Stepping back from the techy fuss and looking at the bigger picture, given what is happening in the whole social networking area, a social element is bound to play an increasingly important role in search or content mediation. It is essentially the folksonomy type processes that I have identified before that are becoming more influential and more important in attaching sensible value assessments to pieces of information. Also – the new social networks (or social clusters as I prefer to call them) are going to play an increasing role as content mediators – sifting and valuing information.

Seth Godin has also made the sensible point in the past that companies should design their web identities to motivate people, not algorithms.

So while we may continue to use an algorithm to find stuff – using an algorithm to rank it or value it is limiting and bound to be overtaken by social, folksonomy type processes. To see an example of what the social element can already add – check out this previous Mahalo versus Google post. I would say the four years estimated by Scoble is pretty spot on – at least to arrive at a point where social type search is at least as important as algorithm based search.

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