The Rise of the Social Search Engine?
Ever heard of “social search engines”? They’re sort of a cross between Google, Twitter and Facebook. Social search engines aim to connect people with questions to people who can answer those questions. By contrast, regular Web searches take questions, break them into keywords, and then find Web sites that have the most relevance to these keywords.
According to the NYT Bits Blog the “idea has gained momentum with the increased use of Twitter and Facebook, where people rely on their networks for information, blasting queries to their social networks and, if their networks are good enough, getting useful, personalized responses.” Companies like Aardvark and Mahalo are trying to create better tools for people with questions to connect to people with answers. Some think social search has the potential to go beyond Google and fundamentally change the way people use the Internet.
Rather than trying to replace traditional search engines, the folks working on social search tools believe “there is a large class of subjective questions — especially longer, contextualized requests for recommendations or advice — which are better served by social search than by web search.”
It’s far from clear how social searches might be useful for grassroots organizing. But then again we’ve always valued community knowledge over “expert” opinion, and we “crowdsource” every day as we knock on doors and organize community meetings…