de.tech.ting

Google's social search circle jerk

Posted by andreaitis on October 27, 2009

This March 25, 2008 file photo shows the sign ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Everything’s coming up search (again):  context and filtering through real-time search,  Twitter search,  social  search, Friendfeed,  people-powered search, etc etc.

So when Google launched its Social Search project in G-Labs yesterday, I was pretty excited to check it out.   I was all set for the test drive:   in one tab,  I clicked over and joined the experiment;  in another tab, I opened search  jedi master Danny Sullivan’s thorough review of Social Search.

One thing I love about the new service is how it makes use of the “social circle” term rather than “social graph,” a phrase more popular in 2007 and 2008 but which doesn’t really explain much to people. Social circle makes sense — these are people you are connected with. They’re in your “circle” of friends.

So far so good. I agree about use of the phrase Social Circle.   I never really understood Social Graph, and now I no longer have to  nod along in faux deep concentration while someone blathers on about the Social Graph.   So thank you for that, Google.

But how does Google know what your social circle is, in order to produce the social search results? Three methods, the company told me, when I talked with Google about the service:

* Your Google Reader account

* Your Google Chat / Gmail Contacts

* Your Google Profile

Okay, I read this part thinking ‘check, check, and check.’   I’ve got all that.  And then I did some testing.   Lame.  Hardly any social search results.  After the first few searches, I realized my downfall:  I have all that and more.  Multiple email addresses, some from way before Gmail existed.   My Gmail account never became my primary email address, and that is my social search downfall.  According to fellow T/S’er Kashmir Hill, it may also bring me domain shame and detract from my cool-ness, but I can live with that.   What I can’t live with is this Social Search limbo.

Do I need to change my email addresses at Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and  Flickr (to start)?

What if I merge my other email addresses into Gmail, will that solve my social search situation?

What about my email domain through Google Apps?

Is this yet again Google’s way of making me bow to its omnipotence on its march to world domination?

Am I just completely socially searchingly inept?

Head over to the Google lab and try social searching here.  My self esteem and I look forward to your feedback.

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2 Responses to “Google's social search circle jerk”

  1. Um- this sounds like I can data-mine my friends’ searches. And the other way around. Assuming I’m friends with everybody on my contact list…. I’d be a lot happier with mutual opt-in.

    I assume they’ll analyze searches based on IP address, whether I’m currently logged into my Google Account or now, and backtrack which searches are likely to belong to me.

    This is still interesting, despite the potentially ominous overtones.

  2. andreaitis said

    I think the bar is a lot lower for ominous overtones in social media (tho still high in location-based services). Still, what bothers me most is that I can’t take advantage of Google’s social search unless I’m all googled up the way they want me to be. Will it be valuable enough to push me to change my email addresses all over the place?

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