Hmmm… reading this particular blog post on the Official Google Blog, I have to say my initial reaction was “not sure if want.”
While I (and many others) have had a block-list field day with the anti-content farm Chrome extension Personal Blocklist, Google’s social searching efforts seem to be a bit less likely to be a step in the right direction for improving Google search results overall. Of course, this is just one Google-user’s opinion, and albeit could be heavily influenced by some of the scarier aspects of Google’s failed Buzz venture.
I think part of the problem for Google is they know way too much about us. It’s kind of like seeing a biological function up close- we have an idea how it happens, but ruminating too heavily on the specific way it works can make you feel a bit queasy. With Google’s social search, the search engine giant plans to pepper your search results to feature commentary from people with whom you’ve connected on social networks.
…you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture.
Google’s taken steps to avoid some of the privacy concerns that landed it in hot water with Buzz. And perhaps this kind of relevant information will come in handy. But given the way YouTube prompts me to log in and out when I’m just trying to view a sexy video kind of sets my “oh my God, people know I’m looking at porn” sensors a bit to “tingly,” it gives me a little pause. Plus, over several years of participating in social media, I have know way of knowing the sum of what I’ve endorsed, evangelized, loved on or bitched about to such an extent I’d feel okay exposing colleagues, clients or old high school classmates to it. (“Kim shared a Foursquare check-in to Babes in Toyland on February 17th when she was supposed to be in a meeting with you- she says, “half off french ticklers! SQUEE.”)
And of course, I can’t help but think of how hard it is to make Twitter personally relevant given the amount of self-promotion that weighs down every aspect of it. I’d hate to have to do that kind of wading on Google when I just want to find a local Indian restaurant or VD clinic. Right now, Google is one of the few places we can go on the web with minimal social input on the information we receive, and part of the draw of Google is the idea of impartial little relevance-bots serving up web links based on algorithms, or math, or something else geeky that has nothing to do with whether the guy who lived two floors down from you junior year of university once got a dirty look from a barista at the local coffee shop.
Of course, nothing Google has said on the matter indicates any of these things will actually be a problem with social searching. Does the idea of Google social searches seem like an improvement to you, or a scary way for the world to find out about your unhealthy love for lady-cop porn?