And here I was just in the middle of writing a piece on why social search is the next big thing.
Because if you don’t know, you can always Google it. That is, everyone knows search is big. To google has even made it into the dictionary as a verb. But social search? That’s huge.
Welcome to the next search paradigm.
Like processing power before it, Moore’s Law now applies to search capacity. It’s no longer enough for the average query to return a billion results in under a few microseconds. Social search leverages the power of real living users with thoughts, feelings and opinions (just like you!) to sort, organizes, rank, reference and even respond personally to your queries with the answers you really want.
Social search is smart, and getting smarter. Fast.
The Aardvark acquisition adds a two-way dimension to search. Now instead of just submitting a one-way query, you can ask a question and get a real response, from real users:
“When you need an answer to a very specific question, sometimes the information just isn’t online in one simple place [...] Aardvark analyzes questions to determine what they’re about and then matches each question to people with relevant knowledge and interests to give you an answer quickly.”
Read Google’s press release.
Last week, we reviewed Google SearchWiki, a social bookmarking integration launched by Google last November, albeit with raised eyebrows. Like many, we had questions about the relevance of this seemingly “me-too” feature for Google search as a possible challenge to popular social bookmarking sites Digg and Reddit.
Earlier this week, the launch of Google Buzz introduces a status-update feed into your Gmail inbox, a move by Google some claim is designed to weigh in with a microblogging strategy as popularized by Facebook and Twitter.
Social search is here.
Unlike the coldly computed ranking of machine-generated results by algorithm, social search infuses the results you get with the social values of your network — your friends, peers, colleagues, and relevant strangers — for results that are more relevant, more interesting, and more often than not, closer to what you’re really looking for.
Even the algorithms are being designed to understand the fuzziness of context: Wolfram Alpha is a “computational knowledge engine”, designed to parse ambiguous queries to return all relevant interpretations. Try typing in the name of a famous president, or a number. Instead of returning a list of links to other websites that may have some information about what you’re asking for based on keyword analysis and other ranking metrics, Wolfram Alpha interprets your query and returns what everything it knows about it.
This is one step closer to truly subjective search and human-like artificial intelligence that can “understand human”. Projects like Siri are actively exploring the emerging reality of virtual assistants.
All this leads to some very interesting questions about the future… How long before Google just reads your mind?