Social Search: the end or empowerment of the long tail ?


I just saw the announcement of the long-term partnership between MS and FB. Their first product will be social search:

http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/search/archive/2010/10/13/new-signals-in-search-the-bing-social-layer.aspx

Of course this was to be expected. I remember this discussion during the SKOS workshop. What we could not know however is whether FB would choose MS, Google, or build the whole thing by themselves, the latter being improbable, not to say infeasible. Well, they chose MS.

A more social question is what effect this will have on our internal exploration / exploitation balance when searching : will this social search make us explore less the unknown, endangering creativity, now that we (using this social search thingy) can fully exploit the things that are recommended by people that are like us, so we can ultimately become more like us ?

Will this social search drive mass convergence, reverse the stretching of the long tail brought by the Web, and bring us back to square 1 where New-kids-on-the-block hits and brain dead blockbusters instead of inspiring niches ruled ?

Or will it thicken the long tail, expanding markets for niches ?

My ideas are not fully developed yet, anyhow I found it necessary to already provoke some discussion on this topic.

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2 Responses to “Social Search: the end or empowerment of the long tail ?”

  1. Tjebbe van Tijen Says:

    The “social search” engines as envisaged by these firms seems to me another hype to be commercially exploited with the regular undisclosed searching and ranking parameters. We are still waiting for some ‘Magna Carta’ of information retrieval systems with very few simple rules like “no public search engine shall have non public parameters.” As far as I can discover the whole enterprise will remain basically in the Boolean-logic realm, whereas it’s time to head for post-boolean solutions. The dynamic combination of disparate information retrieval systems say one textual based combined with another visually based, seems to me the way of the future. Commercialized systems like Google and now Facebook social search tend to put too much value on idiosyncratic ranking results. Next to such quantitative search approaches, qualitative clustering of information through the use of visualized dynamic ontologies and the like should be developed (as an open standard of course).

  2. Robert Meersman Says:

    Why did this item not generate any discussion?

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