Friday, March 02, 2012

How the New Social and Highly Targeted Search Results is Limiting Awareness

So you think that page ranking is not good enough?  “Ok” said Google. “Let’s make the information your social network promotes be the new way of search.”  In some circles this is seen as brilliant.  Now you can search and see the world according to those who share similar views and interests.  What?... let me repeat (because this is what is really going on); “Now you can search and see the world according to those who share similar views and interests”.  If you feel comfortable with this, then you are right; it is comfortable.  And this is why it is WRONG!  Can you imagine that the World Wide Web is now becoming YOUR echo chamber.  You and your friends are now singing the same song.  How incestuous is that? Very.  As a matter of fact it is now easier than ever to know what you like, but even more dangerously, keeping you liking what they know you like.  This is a mega marketing machine’s dream come-true.  

The more you consume information that comes from your closed-in social network, the more predictable you are and the less likely you are to be aware of what is happening outside your closed community.  This form of isolation gives you a false sense of safety in numbers, and it is the key recipe for stagnation and loss of discovery.  This means that you are very unlikely going to be aware of new trends outside your own little world.  These are the very same trends and serendipitous discoveries that allows us to innovate and grow.

If you wonder why Google needs +1 so bad, there is an answer:
  1. To overcome their weakening page ranking algorithm because SEO services are constantly preventing the organic elevation of content through self-promotion
  2.  To overcome their inability to improve their search ranking algorithm when newly-created and relevant Web 2.0 content is prevented from being elevated
  3. To seek crowd-based relevance and predictability to improve the targeted ad placement business mode
  4. To compete with a non-search engine company that knows more than Google does about its users; Facebook.

This is simply indicative that Google is now so big that it has barely grown beyond its Web 1.0 algorithm, and it is now pairing its service with social networks to improve relevance for advertisement placement (their core business).  The price Google pays for this, or will pay, is not insignificant.  With this approach, Google has managed to diminish the reach and the initial value of their search engine at a time when more diverse and time-critical information is available on the Web.  

It is difficult to predict if the move to social-network driven search will become the new reality of discovery.  Some might say that it is the new reality considering the amount of time spent on Facebook or Twitter.  Then what about awareness?  Where does one turn to know what they don’t know, and gain awareness beyond the boundaries of social networks and the growing limitations of search?  I think that this is the fundamental question that has inspired me to create Darwin Ecosystem.  I also think that this will encourage others to explore ways to improve a form of awareness that leads to discoveries, innovation and the simple pleasure that comes with learning new things.

(I hope that Woody Allen does not mind me using this image from Sleeper.  I think that it is pretty representative of what Google think our on-line communities are like. - find Google on the picture.)

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