// what do you think?


Search, Discovery and Curation

While @gearheadgal may never speak to me again my post from earlier this week, 3 Reasons Why Social Media is Killing Search, sparked some healthy debate. (BTW debate is a good thing, it’s healthy, respectful and we should all do it more.)

In my post I pointed to some recently reported trends that social media engagement is nearing search levels and given that many people use social networks to “find” recommendations, this will be very disruptive for search.

Google knows this and is responding: “Google Forming Social Web Team

But Jeremy Meyers, Joe McCarthy and others helped qualify my claims in context of user behavior.

Joe McCarthy had a great response I thought was worth bringing to the surface of people who missed the comment thread.

I like your elevation of “curation”, and agree that social recommendation is an increasingly important component of discovering interesting and useful things online (very much in line with Jeremy Meyers’ distinction between search and discovery).

However, I hope that in the quest for innovation, search does not become overly influenced by social media usage. danah boyd posted an insightful piece a while back about valuing inefficiency and unreliability, in which she emphasized the value conferred by effort. It seems to me that many Twitter users tweet (or retweet) a link to a long article or story without reading it (completely), or tweet a link to a short summary of a longer essay … possibly drawn in by a catchy headline and/or an engaging first paragraph (and no, I won’t say anything more about headlines, given another thread in these comments :) .

My concern is that Twitter and other social media services are promoting a “snack culture”, and without search algorithms that are not [as heavily] influenced by the memes of the moment, our ability to find original sources - or insights and experiences that may not be currently trendy - may suffer.

As a potential analogy, I’m reminded of a study, Voting With Your Feet: An Investigative Study of the Relationship Between Place Visit Behavior and Preference, where Jon Froehlich and his colleagues found that the restaurants people visit most often do not correlate well with the restaurants they actually like or value the most … they are simply most convenient. There’s a place for convenience - online and offline - but I hope search innovations will not sacrifice breadth and depth for radical immediacy.

[Update] Joe left this comment with a link to additional thoughts on the original post:

…the commoditization of Twitter followers, where it provided a missing piece to tie together a few loose ends at the conclusion

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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