Friday, November 21, 2008

SearchWiki by Google!

Google has launched a function called SearchWiki, which lets people customize their searches. Now, what it basically does is that it allows users to rate and 'rank-up' the search results based on their preferences, for personal consumption. While it does not affect the way others see the search results, it is an option to help users customize thier search results. The details of this is explained in the video below.

This is an interesting option and lets me customize what I want to see on the top of my search results, and a move towards a 'social networking' way of customizing and sharing my searches (and the comments I have about the content and relevance of the search results). But it still does not let my preference influence the overall search results others see. Nor does it help give me more targeted content. I have blogged previously about how a synergy between StumbleUpon and Google search results can help give better targeted content and advertising. You can read it here.

I agree with TechCrunch's call that this new addition, while being a move towards making it more interactive and social, will essentially be a test platform to see how to make searches better. Here is Michael Arrington saying,

But Google search wasn’t broken. It’s one of the few things on the Internet that isn’t. I love it, as does 62% of everyone on the Internet. This new stuff is a mess of arrows and troll comments and stuff moving around the page. That doesn’t make my search experience more useful. It makes it move to another search engine.

My guess is they’ve made the changes to see what kind of data they get, and how it can be used to make their overall search results better. So when Google says “The changes you make only affect your own searches,” I think they’re only being half-truthful. All this data, in aggregate, will certainly be used to improve Google search results in general.
This can also be a move towards changing the search paradigm from traffic based popularity ranking to a more content and page view friendly approach to search results. For instance, Google could use the data from SearchWiki to observe and rate websites which are 'ranked up' and based on the quality of comments make subjective, qualitative decisions about the popularity of content. While I don't forsee dramtic changes in search technology becuase of SearchWiki, it is an interesting development!

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