Are Google’s New Search Practices Relevant?
As part of our ongoing exploration of the recent changes to Twitter, Facebook and Google, we asked Zemoga’s Head of Research Russ Ward for his take on Google’s new search practices, Here’s what he had to say:
Well it is no surprise that Google has created a great deal of discussion over its new “Search plus Your World” functionality within Google +.
The chatter all over the web includes concerns over privacy rights, security and the reactions by Twitter and how it may work with Facebook. Quite frankly everyone seems to be reticulating the same news and speculation, but how much of a leap into a new world of search do these new personalized search features afford.
So lets step back and look at what this new Personal Results button really does. From Google + a search will simply yield the usual keyword based search result – so no new functionality there.
Then, by clicking on the Personal Result button a new set of results are added based on the keyword relevance of your search to keyword data indexed within the information Google knows is within your personal data either in Circles or other public data Google has matched to you. The paper clip example Google is using shows this relevance and the simple result.
In real terms this is simply an automated advanced search with results you have most likely seen before. While being personal in nature and clever that it relates keywords to you personally, there is no real innovation here and no real ground breaking improvement to provide useful information.
But it’s what is not happening here that makes this function less useful? By default as Google is NOT scraping Twitter, Facebook or other third party social network, therefore the content presented is naturally biased by Google’s search algorithm and whatever is held in the users Circles account. It is from a search relevance perspective that this means that the Personal Results function can only provide limited results.
To put this to the test – I ran a search of my own (as a matter of disclosure I do not have any content in Google Circles) and my search results do not change in any way. This is the case with or without the Personal Results button active and occurs no matter what I search for.
The take away here is that there does not seem to be any real technological or search advantage here. Until Google gets access to other social media platforms in which you participate there is nothing more to be said because it is IRRELEVANT.
Biz Stone Clears Things Up For Us
by Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)
Given our recent posts about Twitter and Google policy changes, it seemed only fair that we point you to MediaBistro’s coverage of Biz Stone’s clarification of Twitter censorship policies.
While it’s good to know that Twitter is retaining it’s commitment to free speech, it does point out the increasing grey zone between local law and the global nature of the net. From last year’s Wikileaks controversy to SOPA and its sister legislation, it’s increasingly unclear how governments can actually control digital content (and whether they should be trying in the first place).
Is it time to kick this up to a higher level? Should the UN or the World Court be tackling issues like this? Because despite Biz’s good natured explanation, recent discussions online have highlighted just how easy it is for corporations to arbitrarily change the rules of the net.
How do we build communications platforms that aren’t dependent on the goodwill of their inventors to maintain their openness?
Microsoft Joins the Privacy Debate
By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)
Continuing our weeklong theme, SOCIAL TIMES has a writeup about Microsoft’s full page ad in the Wall Street Journal attacking Google’s privacy policies. This could get nastier than the Republican primaries!
Note to Twitter …
Is the Net a Red State?
By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)
Is the net inherently Republican?
Most of my digital brethren (at least here in New York) would react violently to that concept but the events of this past week seem to validate the idea. Even if we’re talking more about Ron Paul’s Libertarian version of Republicanism than the usual version on offer.
Like most people in our industry I was happy to see the demise of SOPA and PIPA last week, pieces of legislation that were both overreaching and indicative of lawmakers lack of understanding of the digital space. And I was impressed by how the web community came together quickly and united in it protest of the legislation.
And while we united as one great digital community to fight off Washington, we seem to accept this behavior if it’s coming from one of our own.
Why is it acceptable for private companies to be cavalier with our personal information. Or impose features and products on us without giving us any choice in the matter? Or banning us from expressing an opinion if we happen to live in the wrong country?
Are we as a digital community saying that we don’t want government regulating Internet content, we should just let business and the free market decide how important issues are handled?
That sure sounds like Republicanism to me.
There’s nothing wrong with Republicanism. It’s a view held by a large majority of people in this country. But it’s definitely a radical change from the way the web community used to think and act. And no one seems to be drawing much attention to that.
What do you think? Is the Internet now a red state? And where are the digital democrats?