Are social networks replacing search engines?

A comment here on Search Engine Journal suggests that social bookmarks like reddit, delicious, StumbleUpon, may replace Google as the search engines of the future.

The author hints to the advantage of these social bookmarks as incorporating human intelligence, but the author ignores the fact that Google is already powered by links incorporating human intelligence as well. The fact that Google ranks sites by (among other things) the number of external websites linking to those website URLs is already a social form of bookmarking or search. The sites that other people find powerful, influential or authentic get linked to and hence are listed higher in the Google rankings.

In Ian Ayres very interesting read, SuperCrunchers, he discusses Google’s beta search efforts as a way of using personalized information about searchers.

“Tera mining of customer records, airline prices, and inventories is peanuts compared to Google’s goal of organizing all the world’s information. … Google has developed a Personalized Search feature that uses your past search history to further refine what you really have in mind. If Bill Gates and Martha Stewart both Google ‘blackberry,’ Gates is more likely to see web pages about the email device at the top of his results list, while Stewart is more likely to see web pages about the fruit. Google is pushing this personalized data mining into almost every one of its features. Its new web accelerator dramatically speeds up access to the Internet–not by some breakthrough in hardware or software technology–but by predicting what you are going to want to read next. Google’s web accelerator is continually pre-picking web pages from the net. So while you’re reading the first page of an article, it’s already downloading pages two and three. And even before you fire up your browser tomorrow morning, simple data mining helps Google predict what sites you’re going to want to look at (hint: it’s probably the same sites you look at most days). “

I’ve long been interested in how websites can use network knowledge (the wisdom captured within its usebase). Slashdot.org found a way to do this in distributing the ability to praise or ding posts of members (without giving anyone veto power); Wikipedia does this through distributing editorial input; Craigslist does this by giving users the power to flag postings as spam.  And I’ve separately written about “viral popularity” as a way of using social networks to spread the popularity of interest in media of various sorts.

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One response to “Are social networks replacing search engines?

  1. Yes they are replacing them for certain cases:

    http://snitch.name/

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