Google’s New Social Search Experiment; still waiting?
I have been following the buzz about the possibility and then probability of Google unveiling its new social search function with interest, so it made sense that I was going to sign up for it and take a peek. My curiosity was mightily piqued, but I also felt a measure of satisfaction. I knew that eventually those Google Profiles that I so carefully have been building for all our clients would come into handy. It only made sense to me, even a year or more ago, that if Google offered you a chance to build something, like a profile, and you could add links to other places that “you” existed online, then Goggle would eventually do something with that information.
I decided to sign in as my own true self as my litmus test for any new service, site or function, was to see how it reacted to the online adoption community. After over ten years of being entrenched in this community, I know who the key players are. I know who is an early adopter, no pun intended, of technology and internet trends. I know, that as a community on the whole, we really have effortlessly moved on as social media grew into what it is today. So I signed in as FauxClaud, joined the Google Social Search Experiment, and put in a search that I have seen enough to know how it was different; I searched for “adoptee rights”.
I Saw No Sign of Social Search Results
I looked, but it looked exactly and completely the same. I went back to the Google explanation page and read it again, but still could not see what they meant. Google clearly says:
“Sign in to Google and do a search. If there’s relevant web content written by people in your social circle, it will automatically show up at the bottom of your search results under a section called “Results from people in your social circle.”
So, I kept on going to the bottom and kept on seeing nothing. I even called Eta over to read the same lines and see what I did not so I was positive that I was not on crack. (I don’t smoke crack, but I like that expression.)
She didn’t see it either, so I was about three seconds away from declaring Google Social Search as officially stupid, when I noticed that the left sidebar **looked a bit different to me. Aha, here was not quite what they described, but indeed, it was social search results.
There Indeed; Social Results
It was the latest internet droppings from some of the people that I knew from the adoption community. Not nearly all of them, but quickly it becomes obvious, that it is my adoption peps who have also carefully created Google Profiles. Unfortunately, out of the very structured online group of thousands; only a handful have bothered creating the Google Profile that had no definitive value until this week and not everyone, myself included, had ensured that all profiles and services were connected. While it is nice that Google allows one to choose to connect whatever one wishes and it does find other profiles that are most likely controlled by you, I can also appreciate other services that do a mass pulling of social information like Friend feed and MyBlogLog where they have those service charts. It’s hard to remember what profiled have been created throughout the years on the web. At least the charts that require filling in provide some sort of guide to basic popular services. On a personal note, it annoys me to no end that both sites still list Mag.nolia.com as if it still bloomed. Update already.
Back to Social Search Results
There was one page. Nine separate people who were involved in the adoption community and somehow connected to me.
Ungrateful Little Bastard was the first listing. It made sense. Whenever I have a new trick to share or a tip; I tell ULB because I know she will do it; she knows the power the internet welds. Google reports that I am connected to her via Digg, but I am connected to ULB on every major service. She is, what they call, a community trust agent. She’s a spoke in a wheel of connections.
Next is listed Bastardette ( What can I say? I hang out with allot of adopted personas online and they have self identified and embraced with the term “Bastard”.) She was one of the very first adoption bloggers, so again, it makes sense, again a spoke of a wheel in Adoptionland. But then I look fartherdown the list…still, really? Only nine?
Then I look and see what the connections are all from. After Digg, all of my “Social Circle” is connected to me via Twitter. That might very well be true, but we have more crossed wired than just Twitter. So I take a look at the results, and they are all either BlogSpot blogs ( No Surprise there) and then it looks to be Tweets, but it’s not even Tweets, nope. It’s just a few misc URL pages.
I’m Not Quite Understanding the Social Search Results.
After my bastard friends, the other 7 have only minor sets of results. Only one or two links which is very surprising especially regarding the last listing, Firemom, as she is in almost more places than I am! Only the first two have some serious Google paging of results, but when you actually LOOK at the results, they are all individual blog posts on.. ..you guessed it…BlogSpot blogs.
I want to back track to everyone’s Google profile so I can test an see if that it is the link? Or maybe the reasoning why the results are only from certain from certain places, like maybe the BlogSpot connections are the only ones that Google picked up? But, I can’t seem to find the darn Google Profiles for anyone! I can’t image that I am the only one with a public Google profile. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.
I then look at Google’s explanation of how it is suppose to work. They call it their Social Graph. That whole explanation goes seem to be related to the actual social search result experiment, but now I am most interested. It almost still does not quite make sense because if Google was actually using the social graph, it would have figured out many many more people in the adoption community that I am connected with. So I try the social graph API demo. I do the standards for the “main” online areas:
facebook.blogger. twitter.friendfeedmyspace..linkedin.youtube.com flickr. and then, I ask to see my connections:
The Social Connections are Just Plain Weird
First off, again, the first connection is via Digg. Now, I am mad at Digg right now because they went and deleted me for no apparent reason. I only discovered that last week, but I have been a Digg member for years. So technically, no one is connected to me via Digg, because Digg killed me. I don’t exist there.
Then I have some connections from MySpace which again is odd, because really, who even goes to MySapce anymore? No, I am not in a band, so I don’t. Then, not surprising, I have a long list of connections from Twitter, but as I look at the actually list, it’s all people that I do know that I follow and that is NOT what Google says it is all about it:
“For example, in the image below, Brad just joined Twitter but has no friends on it. Using the Social Graph API, Twitter could provide Brad a way to find out that his friend Jane is also on Twitter. Here’s how: Brad has linked to his homepage (b3) from his Twitter profile (b1) and also from his homepage (b3) to his LiveJournal blog, Bradfitz (b2). On LiveJournal, Brad is friends with Jane274 (j2), but Brad doesn’t know that Jane274 (j2) also has a Twitter profile (j1). Since the Social Graph API has indexed that Brad and Jane already have declared a public friendship on LiveJournal, it can let Brad know that he might want to add Jane (j1) on Twitter as well. “
Maybe I am just not Geek enough to understand it all, but Google did not show me anything that is new here. I already HAVE all these connections, thank you.
I go one step father, to the “Parameter Playground”. Mind you I don’t have any idea what that means, but it asks me to put in my common URLs again and I do and then there are a bunch of check marks and I check them.
It’s all about the Claimed Nodes
Ok, I will admit it that the whole API thing intimidates me and at this point, I am not sure what I see, but its a heck of allot of code that is generated. I suppose that someone who might actually be a developer or programmer might know to take the string of code and apply it someplace, but I am clueless as to what I am to do with what Google calls the “raw JSON output from the API” .
What I do see is that many many of my profiles, even ones that I have not listed and given to Google are in the code string. Hmmm. They found me on Divine Caroline and Author’s Den, but I wonder if they did so though other places that I link them to? I go back and only enter my Twitter URL to see what happens then to the raw JSON. Now, because on Twitter only my blog is linked, Google only picks up my blogs, profiles and Twitter info. Interesting, but still I have no idea what one would use the code for, I am still not given suggestions of other people whom I might be connected to by some Google controlled Six degrees of separation.
Bottom Line, Still a Google Experiment
Maybe my lack of Geek is really showing, but still I am more aware than the average user about t how these things work and it still made little sense to me. If someone with my connections in a community as internet savvy as Adoption can only generate these Google Social connections, then my conclusion is that there is still much to be developed.
I have to say that Facebook does a much better job of finding me things and people that would interest me.