Google’s new search will be the best of both worlds

Which do you trust more, humans or machines?

Which do you trust more, humans or machines?

Google has released a video showing a Digg-like interface to its search. I think it’s going to change everything.

A casual glance at Friendfeed picked up a link from Chris Brogan: entitled ‘Is this the future of search?’ Given that I’m currently scratching my head a lot and figuring out how best to pull together searches across social media, this sounded interesting. It pointed to this Techcrunch post featuring a video of a new feature that enables you to tailor how your Google results come in.

Essentially you can vote on results in a very Digg-like way. You can add comments to results, and link to your Google profile so people know who voted, how and why. To my mind, this is going to be incredibly powerful.

Google is the ultimate machine-based search, pointing you towards pages that are likely to be what you’re after, not necessarily because that page talks about it, but because other pages reference it. The more pages point to a page, the more likely it is to be relevant. At base, it’s crude, but you can’t deny Google works well enough.

This new ‘voting mode’ points the way to human-based search. It pretty much is actually going around and asking people what they think, to get the best result. It replaces the machine algorithm with sentiment – the ‘human algorithm’ if you like. In so doing, the new Google Search mode turns every node into a social object. It enables people to comment and vote on a result that they care enough about to do so.

Comments on Todd’s Friendfeed has been interesting. Most agree it’s highly significant, but some feel that it’s in some way scary – it’s ‘mob rule’, ‘it leaves quality content as the mercy of conventional wisdom’, ‘monumentally stupid idea’, ‘I don’t want marketers telling me the best search result’.

My take on it is that if – as I assume to be the case – you can switch between these two modes, then you can compare and contrast. It just depends on what you value, or how you want to search.  I don’t see why this is so scary – it offers the best of both worlds, both the machine-based election for what you’re searching on, and the human-based.

And would it be so easy to game? Can you really game Google? As in, something that large? And if so, how does that make it lesser than Digg – assuming that is also gameable – or indeed current Google? (note: these comments, including mine, have been copied directly from Chris’s Friendfeed comments).

OK, so sites like Digg, del.icio.us etc already do this. The real difference, as far as I can see, is that, if you ask people in the street about Digg or del.icio.us or Wangwack or Biffo or whatever’s coming along next, you’ll more likely than not get a blank look. But almost everyone knows about Google. Heck, even my parents have heard of Google. Even the cat looks up when I mention it.

So look out for this emerging from Google Labs at some point. It’s going to be intriguing to say the least.

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