Sunday, February 7, 2010

Google's Social Search and Discovery

Over the past year, 'discovery' (or the 'art of finding people and articles of interest on the web) has gotten both easier and more difficult.

Easier in the sense than there are now many more tools to sort through the so-called 'noise'.

Harder in the sense that the entire free world has descended on social media sites and services, and the lines are quickly blurring as to how much we can take in each day and from where (or whom).

Once relegated to social 'voting' sites such as Digg, discovery has matured, with people sharing information on services such as Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook and others.

A couple of weeks ago, Google announced 'Google Social Search', a new feature built in to Google that allows you to see who you're connected to across the web and numerous platforms.

While the somewhat subtle feature received some launch press, I didn't read anything about anyone taking it for a serious spin OR what the future implications and/or uses may be.

Google has been moving social in a measured way, connecting services such as GMail, Google Reader, Blogger and many other internal services. However, the Google social infrastructure has been some fragmented and Google's actual social initiative, Google Friend Connect, has been slow to take off. (This, aside from Orkut, Google's original social experiment, which still retains strength in South America and other areas).

While logged in this morning I decided to wander over to Google Social Search.  As an 'early adopter', I already had a pretty extensive network there prior to even looking at it.

What I found the most interesting was the stream of 'how' I was connected to people across the web.  Even more interesting was how the people I enjoy reading the most are connected to others .... and looking at why.

In minutes, I had come across LOTS of interesting and informative blogs and people I hadn't been tuned in to before.  It was eye-opening (and that's an understatement).

While Facebook, Twitter, and other services easily allow you to see who others are following, this latest product from Google had already scanned all types of social networks and services and even provided a window into who was reproducing some of my own content that was much more in-depth than Google Alerts.

While some rail Google for the amount of information they are harvesting every second, what most people don't realize is there are factually opt-out privacy measures for almost all of them.

If you don't, and choose to be 'visible', this new vehicle could prove to be a valuable addition to your networking toolkit and easily help you tune in to what you have time to read on the Internet each day.

The original launch video is below.  It provides a good overview of what you can do with Google Social Search.  I'm sure there are more than a few of you that either missed this one or would want to check it out.

Great weekend all

Update 1 -   Feb 7, 2010 7:30 PM ET: Google Social Search was actually introduced as an experiment in October of 2009 and subsequently was re-introduced on January 27th 2010 .... and made available to everyone at that time (in beta) via