Oh, what will they think of next? In the growing trend of finding ways to get all of our online ducks in a row, Google has unveiled Social Search, which extends the Google gaze on any given topic to all social content — YouTube videos, blog posts and, yes, even tweets and public Facebook status messages — created by our contacts.
George Snell over at High Talk has some good observations on this topic — mainly, are we becoming too dependent on our social circle as information filters? In a similar vein, lots of folks talk about Twitter as an RSS-killer. But as discussed in this space a few months ago, a peer-mediated forum for information on any given topic is no substitute for an unfiltered stream subjected to our individual judgment and discretion.
Here’s a thought: What happens when social search expands beyond simply my Google contacts? What if I do a search for a restaurant or a individual on Google and I can see every tweet, yelp or blip on that topic, along with the relevant webpages? The closer we get to a single stream, the more excited I get. But that excitement is tempered by a couple of reminders that the emergence of Social Search brings to the fore.
One reminder is that content published publicly — no matter if it’s a news article on the front page of NYTimes.com or an unprotected tweet — is out there. Once you hit “share” or “post” or “update,” it’s out of your hands and it’s just currency in the information marketplace. So while we get the benefit of so much more information and perspectives at our fingertips via Social Search, we also have to be mindful of our own contributions to that data pool.
It’s also a reminder any given entity is no longer necessarily the prime authority on itself. For people seeking information, there is an increasing number of voices to listen to. The challenge for that entity? Not to speak louder, but to speak better — and, of course, to keep listening.