A must-read article, “Facebook Unleashes Open Graph Search Engine, Declares War On Google” from AllFacebook.com shows how the search worm is turning inside of Facebook, with the importance of “Like” rising as a key variable in search — at least inside of Facebook. This is dreadfully important as a concept.
This very change, as small and undramatic as it has been incorporated, provides a fantastic look into the future of search and the contextual web. Consider how the open display of credibility and validation will change how we find information. We already see the results of that, in theory, in how search already plays out. We assume that the relevance determined by the wizard behind the Google curtain with every click of a “search” button.
Is there an assumed trust that all of those people who find this useful or like something are being sincere and are for real? Certainly, just as we assume when we search now that what appears first is truly relevant (paid ads aside – not that the first unpaid ad hasn’t ostensibly paid to be listed high via optimizing, etc.). AllFacebook.com wonders aloud about “like baiting” as well, but in some ways that still feels less nefarious than engineering a page that has no business showing up so high in a ranking to appear first, even if it actually has no relevance– a practice that happens every day in our typical search.
But then imagine how the actual display of the relevance, such as number of likes, incorporates the, “Is This Review Useful”-ization of the web. In some ways it’s fundementally taking the algorithm away from tinkerers and into the hands of motivated consumers — for good or ill. (And I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, just fascinated that and how it’s happening.) Facebook wants to create a “social semantic search engine” that essentially runs off of the interactions of people as relevance fuel, not meta data tricks. This very urge and their platform and critical mass of interactions in which to try it means we will have a lot to chew on in the near future as the underpinnings of information display in search give way to new supports.
Google’s caching Tweets and displaying in some first searches. Facebook is listing by Like. Where will we be next year as sentiment creeps not just into our results, but into the algorithm itself?