Tag Archives: social search

This is why I suck at learning lyrics – study on computers and memory

Read an interesting study on Wired on memory. A small scale study has shown that if you know you have access to data, you’re far less likely to remember it:

If you think a fact is conveniently available online, then, you may be less apt to learn it.

This is amazingly true. I frequently note that people referencing articles they’ve read to me can’t remember the article title, author or where it was published, or the detail of what it said or why it was interesting or funny. But they can remember the search sequence that got them there and find it via Google. Which is a fascinating insight into human psychology, right there – the journey is more memorable than the destination.

This is one of the reasons why I’m uncertain on social search. People like the solidity of search; the only way to make sure that social search improves on regular search is to somehow confound this pattern – making sure that social search is only a marginal improvement on general, unfiltered search – otherwise people will get frustrated by not being able to find the same things when on different machines.

Should Google push on with social search?


I have been pleasantly surprised that this blog is coming up in the search rankings for a series of random search phrases at the moment (front page for ‘low emissions cars’ for one reader, apparently). I promise I don’t do any SEO wizardry – I haven’t even had time to update my blogroll! – but I think my polymath tendencies and prolific blogging is working in my favour in Google’s eyes.

It is interesting that Google is increasingly changing the way it manages search to try to link in with your ‘social graph’ – what your network of contacts is seeing, finding and sharing. Google has been notoriously bad at creating social graphs itself (Buzz, anyone?), but what they have got they want to harness to this end. Indeed, it’s so serious about this that they’ve this week announced Google+ – it’s own social network.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I like the mass-consensual authority of Google’s PageRank, using determined authority worldwide as the means by which it draws you to content – I’m happy for the ‘database of intention‘ of the search world to be different to that of the social world. If I want a social recommendation, I will ask – on Quora, or – more likely – Tweetdeck or Facebook. It’s a different style of interaction.

That said I’ve not really seen it play out yet (largely because Google’s Social Graph capabilities are so limited), and Rory at the BBC is trying to test if this is really the case. So will have to wait and see what happens.

I know from Google’s point of view that social search is a necessary strategic move – reports are coming in of a decrease in overall web traffic as people move to Facebook. So to maintain its ad revenue, it needs to maintain relevance in an increasingly social web.