Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Google Fires Another Shot At Facebook, AND: Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?


""If last year’s launch of Google+ was the search giant’s first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search+ product its Blitzkrieg.

Launched Tuesday, Google’s new Search+ initiative integrates results culled from your Google+ social network connections into Google search queries, a major step into providing relevant social content into the company’s namesake product.

When you search for a term — say, “Netflix,” for example — the new product will serve up private and public instances of “Netflix” pulled from people you’re connected with on Google+, including photos, links and status updates. In addition, relevant Google+ profiles, personalities and brand pages will also be folded into results.

So a search for Netflix could yield the official site, a news story about the company, a link to a friend from Google+ talking about Netflx, and the like. Further, all of these results are tailored specifically to those friends.""

""It’s a huge move for Google, a company which made its bilions indexing web pages with its advanced algorithms. The company’s origins are rooted in text-based search, using Larry Page’s now-famous “Page Rank” system to create a hierarchy of relevancy for when users entered search queries. Over the years, search progressed: Google added video, images, its Instant product, and the like. The early Oughts gave rise to an age of search, so much so that “Googling” was deemed a verb in our official English lexicon.
But as the decade progressed, another phenomenon began to take over — social. Facebook grew from a small site created in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to a global presence, now boasting over 800 million users. Twitter sees millions of tweets pass through its pipes monthly. Social network LinkedIn is one of the most watched companies in the Valley. And social gaming giant Zynga just filed a multi-billion dollar IPO in December.

And as users flocked to the platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn’t even know they wanted. Facebook begat “likes,” a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. ‘Likes’ spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends.

And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

“One of the signals that we haven’t take as much advantage of as we should have is that all of [our search results] were written by people,” said Jack Menzel, director of search product management, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you.”""


""So the introduction of Google’s new Search+ additions ultimately serve a twofold purpose: First, Google is using the strength of its insanely popular search product to bolster its fledgling social network. As of today, Google+ has a user base somewhere in the tens of millions — far behind that of Facebook. Considering the millions upon millions of search queries entered every single day, and the implications of folding Google+ information into those results, it’s a easy way to leverage the power of Google’s existing properties into beefing up its young one.


Second, it provides Google with an entire cache of new information relevance. Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users’ individual profile data for Google’s search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that’s a huge chunk of pertinent information.""






""Google Tuesday launched Search plus Your World, a significant change to the flagship product that just about everybody uses every day. It’s a big deal, and Mike Isaac has the deets and some analysis. I’ll post something myself on the broader issues later on.

For now, let me note one feature that may be lost in the larger news. Because some people may not want shared items from people on their social graph to intrude with their searches, Google offers a quick opt-out: a button that removes all social results from a search.""


""But it does more than that. Choosing that option blocks Google from using the history of your previous searches when it provides results. (Google still uses some personalization in choosing results, namely language and location. Otherwise, says Google’s search quality guru Amit Singhal, the results would probably be unsatisfying if not confusing. If you’re really motivated, though, you can plow through some menus and change those settings, too.)
According to the Google blog:""

""We’re also introducing a prominent new toggle on the upper right of the results page where you can see what your search results look like without personal content. With a single click, you can see an unpersonalized view of search results..""

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