What’s so disturbing about the new option in Google Search?

For a week or so, there’s been hoards of tweets and posts by people being upset about the new feature in Google Search results: the possibility of including search results powered by your network (in Google+, that is).

The criticism seem to fall into one of the following categories – or both:

  • It’s unfair to include only Google+
  • Search fundamentalism

Before looking closer at these to I have to state: the more I’ve read, the more puzzled I have become. What’s so bad about an option to get a little help from your friends by boosting your search results with their experience and activities? After all, they are more likely to share your interests than all the other folks out there. Friendship is usually based on having something in common, isn’t it?

In our social intranet, we have similar concept, which we regard as an advantage: “Your friends are your filter”. Faced with an abundance of information, it’s usually a good help to have get a helping hand to find the trees in the forest.

Particularly as you really don’t need to be active on Google+ once you have created your network there. Just get an account, add people to your circles and off you go. They don’t even need to accept your following of them like they would have to on Facebook. Topping up, the search results is based on their activity, not yours. So you can just idle and inject their results if you want to. Or not, if you so should choose.

Let’s look instead at the “unfair” argument.

I thought Google wasn’t a public service, but a business. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are. If the same possibility was available to Facebook, they wouldn’t have thought twice about doing it. And would anybody have been surprised? They are not known for acting like your local charity. Rather, I’ve been hoping for Google as the challenger with both muscle and brains to be able to finally challenge the overwhelming dominance by Facebook on the social arena. Facebook getting some serious competition is a good thing.

Also, as stated earlier, once you’ve opened an account and added some folks to your circles your ready to roll…and can keep interacting with your friends on Facebook if you’d like to.

Let’s turn to the Search Fundamentalists

Their argument is that adding “your world” to the search criteria distorts the search results compared to the ones generated by the pure search algorithm. Apart from the ability to turn off the “your world”-option, I’ve had more sympathy for this argument. Many of us still remember how sponsored search ranking caused the downfall of Alta Vista (had to search my memory for the name actually). It would be stupid by Google to fall into the same trap. But are they? The network results are clearly indicated as such and the sponsorship is unpaid, made by people  by your choice. And… once again… you can easily turn it off.

Finally, just a couple of days ago, I came upon the final nail in the coffin of the fundamentalist way of thinking, a blog entry in C-net “Why Google is ditching search“. It brought to my attention what I already knew, but hadn’t thought off: that search results rankings are already distorted, but not through Google selling ranking, but through people engaging SEO services.

So, case closed – at least in my book. I will keep using the Search and your world option most of the time and now have one more reason to add interesting people to my circles weather we know each other or not, as long as they seem to post interesting stuff.

Which social aggregator will be first to include Google+ ?

Many of us social addicts have come to rely on aggregators to help us post across social platforms and to view and manage our scanning of the buzz in one application. The ones I have come across are Tweetdeck, Echofon, Seesmic and Yoono. I’m sure there are more. Please feel welcome to add a comment if I have left out your favourite.

They all have their advantages and disadvantages. I have come to use Tweetdeck and Yoono more and more. Tweetdeck because of the neat control of the panels where I can follow a subset of twitterflows and Facebook. For quick posting, Yoono integrated into Firefox gives a continuous flow of updates, including a nice, but sometimes distracting notifier in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. You can turn it off if you want to, forever of for a limited time. But the best thing about Yoono is the coverage of services: Facebook, several Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, FriendFinder, MySpace, Flickr, Foursquare, AIM, Yammer, Yahoo Messenger Google Buzz and Google Talk as well as YouTube. They just had to give up on Microsoft Live Messenger but who cares really?

Now when Google have released Google+ to the public, I wait in suspense to see which of these aggregators (or others) will be the first to integrate with it. Whichever it is it will get a big + in my book since that is currently a prime hurdle to my use of Google+.

It’s unlikely to be Tweetdeck (since they were recently acquired by Twitter)

I hope it is Yoono.

I actually think it will be Yoono.

—- UPDATE —-

13 October 2011

The correct answer is: None of the above.

I have just sent my first cross-network update using iStatus+, an iPhone app by Nadan Gergeo. Read more here