Roger Cohen, The Quest to Belong
Next year’s Thanksgiving grace.
Danny Sullivan gets to the heart of Facebook’s Graph Search: it depends on how connected you are, and who you are connected to.
When I’ve watched Facebook show me demos of Facebook Graph Search, and do some of the example searches I’ve itemized above, it’s impressive. But it’s also impressive because it’s a person from Facebook who makes heavy use on Facebook to connect to things and who is in turn tapping into the knowledge of many other Facebookers who are similarly hyper-connected. They are not, in a word, normal.
Consider me. Not only have I not liked my electrician, my plumber, my dentist, my doctor or my tax person on Facebook but I don’t even know if they have Facebook pages. I have nothing to offer to my Facebook friends in this regard.
Similarly, despite the huge number of books I read through my Kindle, I never go to like those books on Facebook, so books I love are more or less invisible on Facebook.
Facebook itself understands this challenge, but it’s hoping the promise of what search can provide will help encourage people to build the connections they may lack now.
“There are now new reasons to make these connections. We’re hoping the existence of that will encourage it,” said Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, who has worked closely on the Facebook search product. “But absolutely, early on, that [your degree of connectedness] will make the experience you have with this vary.”
There is a problem here. People are generally *not* motivated to do things now that could prove useful in the future only if everyone else does it too. Generally, people are motivated by immediate needs, like figuring out where to have lunch, today.
I like the weaker argument, that Facebook’s new search will make the Facebook experience slightly better — like allowing you to find all the pictures you’ve liked — instead of it becoming the social era replacement for Google search.
Danny Sullivan, Why Apple Is Going “Containment” Not “Thermonuclear” Against Google In iOS 6 (via searchengineland)
I haven’t been spending much time in Google+ — waiting for the self-referential nature of the system to die down a bit — but Danny Sullivan has been plugging away, and he compares Google+ to Twitter, which is my primary (nearly exclusive) social netwrok:
Danny Sullivan, Google+ Vs. Twitter: A Personal View
On Twitter, my top ten items all came within one minute — and there were more within that same minute, if I’d gone down further. On Google , the top ten items stretched across a seven minute period.
For me, Google is currently less active that Twitter. My gut feeling is that this is due to there still being less activity on Google as a new network than because I’m not following enough people.
Circles Are Exhausting
As for the Google+ Circles feature, which lets you can organize people into particular groups, that’s now become work to me.
When I first saw Google+ in testing months ago, I though the idea of a new network using the circles concept would be a great “reset” for me and others who felt they’d “done it wrong” in friending on Facebook. Since its launch, I’ve seen many people remark that it is indeed a good reset.
But you know, what I follow on Twitter is a nice collection of people and sources I trust, that I’ve built up over the years. I don’t have the time or energy to try and match that manually on Google+, nor are they all there.
Right now, what I need more than anything from Google is for it to automagically recreate all the people I already follow on Twitter. Since that’s not going to happen, I really need it to let me easily find people by subject areas. People in technology, in search, in other areas – I want to browse and easily select these groups. Maybe it will come, and certainly if we could publicly share circles, it would help. But I really need it now.
I wrote last week that Circles was going to be too much work (see Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze), and Danny seems to echo that.
The Twitter ‘import’ seems like a no-brainer, but I guess Twitter would block hitting the API for that purpose.
However, Danny’s thoughts on curation of Google+ users and perhaps content seems an interesting path, and obviously something Twitter does, in part. The best example in this area is Tumblr:
Stowe Boyd, What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr
Tumblr, like most blogging tools, has rich and deep support for tags. In the editor, the user can add tags to posts.
And knowledgeable users can take advantage of the tags, for example, typing in the URL to access posts with a certain tag, like ‘www.stoweboyd.com/tagged/curation’, which leads to Tumblr creating a tag page (or pages) with all the posts with the tag.
Perhaps even more interesting is the recent push by Tumblr to integrate tags with curation in the relatively new Explore capability. Basically, Tumblr has decided that a list of a few dozen very popular and broad categories — like ‘Tech’, ‘LOL’, ‘Comics’, and ‘Fashion’ — should be curated by a mix of algorithm and editorial oversight. Like a media company might do.
Google might want to look at Tumblr, who has been quietly innovating while we are all comparing Google+ to Twitter.
Oh, one last thing: imagine if the debut of Google+ led Twitter to drop the 140 character limit on messages?
Danny Sullivan is tracking the breaking news on the US government’s efforts to get data about searches from search engine companies to support its defense of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA):
It’s important to note that from what I read, the requests do not involve user data at all. Shutting off your cookies or purging your personalized search data wouldn’t protect you with this request, because the request wasn’t going after personal data. To stress again:
* According to the report, they wanted a list of one million web addresses. Not who went to the web pages and when, just a list of URLs picked randomly.
* They wanted searches for one week. I haven’t seen the court documents, but I’m guessing Google could have handed over a list of searches that were entirely unassociated with IP addresses, times, cookies and registration information. Nothing suggests that they wanted to know who did the searches in any way.
Having said this, such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn’t ask for data this time, but next time, they might. Of course, it bears reminding that this type of data is easily obtainable from ISPs. So even if the search engines refuse to comply, your own ISP could be giving up your data — or selling it.
That’s my concern: the precedent of them asking for this data, and Google et al simply handing it over. Especially this government.
Thank goodness at least Google seems to have that issue in mind, unlike the others, who simply hand the info over.
[Update: Chris Nolan jumps into this mess, wondering why Google would resist:
I have to say that I’m honestly surprised that Google has decided to engage in this show-down. One of the reasons I have steadfastly refused to use Google’s GMail is because I don’t trust that corporation - or any other - to maintain my privacy. When you’re in the business of keeping secrets and not telling people where or how you get information, having private email is a good, good thing. And I know enough and am grossly cynical about Silicon Valley and its business people to know that in circumstances where the choice is business or principle, business is gonna win. As The New York Times story observed: If Google loses its court battle, it will, in fact comply with the subpoena.
That’s not to say Google is run by nasty folks or spineless creeps.
It’s not. But it has investors and shareholders and they have made
those investments for one reason: To make money. The more the better.
It’s safe to say that’s why American OnLine (owned by Time Warner),
Microsoft and Yahoo have not objected as strenuously to giving the
government information. It
is why those companies comply with requests for information from
foreign governments that we here in this country would - or should -
consider illegal. Generally speaking - unless you’re in the news
business and even then you better have a good lawyer - picking fights
with the government in not good for business.
But then Google’s business depends on it having our trust - as a
business and as individuals. In the long run, it is good for business
for them to have this fight. The politics of its management and
investors - they in many respects embody that group I call Progressive libertarians
- also offer a sense of how the company feels about the Bush
Administration. Not good is a good enough description for now. So we
have an interesting moment to contemplate here; the Silicon Valley and
the Administration have squared off - over porn, of course - and it’s
not clear who’s going to win. It would be nice to say this is a
slam-dunk for Google. But it’s not.
This is more troubling because the government is making - in the
Google case - an argument no different in theory than the one it makes
for wiretapping: We are doing this to protect you. The Justice
Department was information about porn searches so it can shore up a
much-dismissed law; it says it is protecting children. In listening to
phone conversations without court supervision, the government says the
same thing: We are protecting you from terrorists.
The issue here isn’t protection. It never is. It’s about control.
PS Chris is looking for a Tech Law contributor for Spot-on, too.]