Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Facebook and Social Search

Well, another upcoming feature within Facebook has gotten me to shake off my blogging cobwebs and do a little writing. In fact, it has gotten me to take another look at a blog post I started on December 30, 2008 and never finished...
Over the last year or so, I have been intrigued by a concept I call "knowledge networking". I have written a bunch of posts on the topic and define it as...
the ability for people to connect with the purpose of leveraging each other's knowledge. This is different than social networking where people connect with the purpose of communicating with each other.
Most of my perspectives have been about the role knowledge networking would play in the business world but there is also a place for such a concept in the consumer world. For example, if I was thinking about going to Costa Rica for a family vacation, wouldn't it be nice if I could easily find all of my friends who have already been there? This type of capability is being called "social search".

Recently, TechCrunch published an article entitled, "The Future of Social Search (Or Why Google Should Buy Facebook)". The article talks about the potentially powerful combination of Google's search capabilities with all of the "social" data Facebook has (a la News Feed). I agree this would be a powerful combination but I question why can't Facebook do much of this on their own by enhancing their mediocre search function.

I continually get frustrated with Facebook's search capabilities.
I never finished that last paragraph and now it looks like I don't have to. Yesterday, Facebook disclosed that they have begun limited testing on a new version of Facebook Search. The details can be found here but most importantly in my mind, you will be able to search on the contents of your News Feed (i.e., all of the updates made by your friends). I believe this will be very powerful.

So to go back to the example I used earlier...if I am thinking about going to Costa Rica for a vacation and wanted to find out who else I know has been there, I will be able to do a search on "Costa Rica" in my News Feed and any update that mentions it will be shown in the search results.

It's not clear when Facebook will roll out the new version of search to all of its users but I am very excited about its potential.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

RSS for the Masses

Yesterday, Facebook conducted a press event where they previewed changes they are making to their service. Details can be found here. All of the major tech blogs have communicated their take on the announcement. AllFacebook just posted an entry that tries to straighten out "the wide-range of semi-accurate reporting taking place".

I am not one to say whether the reporting has been accurate or not but I do feel that everybody is missing the boat on one of the important implications of the new Facebook features. If you take the new version of what used to be called Pages and combine that with the new real-time nature of News Feed, you have an RSS-like capability for the masses. Now, media organizations, like CNN and NY Times, will have their own mini-feed and they will be constantly making status updates with their latest headlines. So if users "friend" these organizations, they will be able to see the headlines stream through their News Feed in real time. Nice.