10 thoughts on “Search Was Our Social Glue. But That Is Dissolving”

  1. WTF is “personalization” supposed to mean?

    It will mean different things to different people and in different contexts.

    You need to clearly relate the context of your statement (homework assignment?) to your reader.

    I am amazed — this seems like a huge oversight (like something a freshman ought to have learned in Composition 101).


  2. e.g. “Google is the engine I use.

    This is one reading or personalization: you have personally chosen to put on blinders. From this point of view, you are disappointing users who might be expecting a blog that is about “search” (in general) and not merely about “Google” (in particular). This is a personal choice — so does that mean it’s a “personalized” configuration of your blog?

    Another example: If I prefer Firefox to Internet Explorer, is that a matter of “personalization” of my desktop?

    How about wearing sneakers and jeans instead of a suit and tie? Where does personalization begin? Where does it end? Does “have it your way” mean that because I have “personalized” my geographical location, that the sun rises just for me, personally?

  3. Search (SERPs) was our social glue – BUT the results were not fully relevant.

    Personalization – and in the future – the Semantic Web will allow for more exact results per individual as opposed to being mass group oriented.

    This will also encompass the inclusion the Social bookmarks and the ‘invisible Web’ to further optimize the results.

    The casual searcher who insists on using two or three keywords for virtually all queries will be the most effected by this hi tech.

    Sophisticated searchers are less defendant on the technology and are more proactive about finding detailed, relevant SERPs. They form more esoteric niche groups to satisfy one another.

  4. You mean like how there used to be 3 television channels in the 1950s, and so you were pretty much guaranteed to be able to approach someone at the water cooler and laugh about a shared experience watching the Honeymooners the night before? But now that there are 800 channels, and everyone has Tivo, so that even if you are watching the same show you might be days or even weeks apart by the time you and your water cooler buddy see it, we no longer have those shared social glue moments?

    Yeah, I can see the analogy, see how you could think that.

    But I don’t think it’s an issue. At least not yet. As far as I can tell, Google is taking such a light-handed approach to personalization, despite all the hype, the years of effort, and the 7,000 PhD they’ve got working on it, that it really isn’t changing that many results lists, that often, that much.

    To continue the analogy, the current state of results list personalization technology is like going from 3 television channels to 4. There is a slight spread in the viewer distribution, but not much. It certainly isn’t like going to 800.

    One of these days.. Alice.. one of these days..

  5. Ack! You’re beginning to sound like Cass Sunstein. You used to be such a great intellectual foil for him, what with your optimistic vision of personalized TV commercials and broadband/search-enabled refrigerators. Is this the rise of the cyber-balkans on SearchBlog?

  6. What you call personalization is actually socialization.

    From the point of view of the writer, the audience is no longer the universal web, but a myriad of communities.

    The web used to be one community now it’s millions each contextualizing language.

    The semantic web is not going to adress that complexity.

    Now is time to come back to the blank sheet of paper with (my option), revisiting the ass-ness of Language.

    Language speaks us (Heidegger).

  7. All – I wrote something on this this weekend, but it won’t go up for a bit (it’s for the Looksmart series). But I have a lot more to say. I’m not being Cass, in fact, I see a big opportunity here…

  8. wow! It is an interesting point of view.

    On the other end of this scale, I could argue that the tendency for personalization is the final delivery of the long tail, where search truly differentiates itself from
    mass media business, such as television. And – make no mistake – search is a media business. ( another interesting question is wether it really should be, but thats beside the point).

    And the fundamental point – by bringing the business outside of the content itself, search has the incredible potential of really deliver culture, and not just theodor adorno’s cultural industry.

    Now, I am not a school of frankfurt guy to the letter, while I believe the cultural industry is harmful, a balance between mass media is good, as you call it, as a social glue. I see the JG comment about television, and it pretty much nailed the point concerning mainstream TV as social aggregation. You know what’s interesting? Here in brazil, lots of people who have 800 channels and tivo,
    wouldn’t miss the #1 mainstream tv show, so they can socialize at the water cooler, quoting JG. We praise freedom as the cornerstone of western civilization, shouldn’t we let society regulate itself ? wouldn’t people gravitate towards mass media content, once they feel the need for the social glue?

    The burning question is, and I would love to hear your take on this, what kind of mechanisms would be legitimate and effective to achieve balance between the two?

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