I just learned my next piece is up over at the Looksmart series. It’s a rumination of sorts….
In ten short years, Google has become our social glue – we all presume that two people, asking roughly the same question, will get pretty much the same answer, and that answer will be correct. For most of the past decade, that was a pretty fair assumption. Google has become a universal search resource, reliable, accurate, and … consistent.
But for a variety of reasons, that assumption is no longer true. The ongoing goal of all search providers has been to personalize search – to tailor answers to the individual who is doing the searching. Search no longer takes one signal – your query – and finds results against the entire web. Instead it takes many signals – your search history, your geographic location, things you’ve clicked on in the past, files on your hard drive (if you allow it), and many others – and processes those signals against probable sub sets of data that have a higher chance of providing *you* the best answer. And that answer, increasingly, will be quite different from someone else’s, even if that other person asks exactly the same question.
Along the way, I think, something has been lost. It’s the same thing my mother lamented as she watched my generation abandon the newspaper – common ground, common spaces – a common set of facts around which we as humans can gather, debate, and connect. And therein lies an opportunity, I sense, to create a new kind of search that is in fact *not* personalized, but rather socialized – shared and common to all.