Social Search Overview (Google Custom Search Engine, Yahoo Answers & MyWeb, Flickr, &

Dec 6, 2006 - 10:46 am 2 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

Chris Sherman is the moderator of this panel, the room is very empty. Why? Maybe because it is the first session of the morning or maybe because people assume it isn't a big deal, when it is.

Chris puts up a slide that defines what social search is. He said social search are "wayfinding tools informed by human judgment." It can also mean uninformed, where people give wrong information to the social community. Chris explains that the very first web page was a directory and Yahoo! is a directory, all these are forms of social search. We also had meta tags in 1996 to help content owners influence search engines, they failed. Fundamentally, algorithmic search is social because search engines are programmed by people who have biases of their own. The search engines also observe our behavior to change algorithmic search. And there are new personalization efforts to refine search for everyone.

So why is there so much buzz right now? Chris said, possibly because algorithmic search has plateaued to some extent, also humans are still better than computers at many things and there are thousands of volunteers to help in social search.

Types of social search: - Shared bookmarks and web pages;, shadows, myweb, furl, diggo; - Tag engines such as technorati and bloglines; - Collaborative directories such as ODP, Prefound, Zimbio and Wikipedia (an encyclopedia but lots of links to other resources); - Personalized verticals such as eurekster, Google COOP and rollyo; - Collaborative harvesters such as digg, netscape and reddit; - Social Q&A sites such as Yahoo Answers and Answerbag.

Problems with Social Search: - Scale and scope issues - Tagging issues )ambiguity, lack of controlled vocabulary, human laziness, and "idiots". - Spammers

What will make Social Search Work?: - A combination of algorithmic and "people-mediated search" - Trust networks (like shared bookmark services and friends) - Increased personalization and user control over result filtering - Social search will probably work best for non-text content (photos, music, video, etc.)

Tomi Poutanen, Directory of Yahoo Social Search Networks (i.e. Answers, Flickr,, MyWeb, etc.). Yahoo! Answer's Birthday this week, they acquired last year, and Flickr March 2005, and they all have grown tremendously, be design, he said. He shows examples of how the different services work... Nothing really I can type here, just check out those services, they are sweet. Typical web search is about three words, typical questions are eleven words. They want to build the largest knowledgeable out there.

Shashi Seth of Google Custom Search Engine (Coop) He does not have a presentation, he will just chat a bit. Before the Internet came about, people obviously had questions and information seeking needs. So they asked people their questions. That phenomenon is translating into web search as well. It is migrating from specific properties and being found on web search (one place). That is Google's philosophy, everything starts with They do not believe in people going to multiple properties, it is one location, Social search is about sharing, discovery, collaboration, trust, recommendations. Google has Google Coop, Custom Search Engine, Google Topics in the form of refinements. Google is focusing on efforts to improve collaboration within many of their products.

Pathak from They extend the "expert rank" to the social search area. There are fundamental areas that we need to resolve in the social search area, and he lists them out. He believes they can provide significant value to the end user...

These posts may have spelling and grammar issues. These are session notes, written quickly and posted immediately after the session has been completed. Please excuse any grammar or spelling issues with session posts.


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