The Amazing Possibilities of Social Search

At the intersection of Social Networking and Search is an exciting frontier that is just beginning to be realized.  Through more efficient analysis and subsequent comprehension of the relationships between information we will gain a greater understanding of the world around us and interact with it.  The implications for both publishers and marketers will be powerful. 

The concept of Social Search intuitively makes intuitive sense.  We know a lot of people and know that some of them have specific knowledge and wisdom that is useful to us.  However, locating the person in our networks with the specific intelligence to aid us in a specific task can be difficult.

In the digital world, the problem has been extended to more types of information including documents, graphics, audio and video.  The more skillfully we are able to navigate through complex webs of data and concepts the greater value we can derive from the networks that we create.

Our Vast Networks

On LinkedIn we can all see our own network statistics.  I have a few hundred contacts.  However, my 2nd degree contacts (friends of my friends) number over 100,000.  Amazingly, my 3rd degree contacts (the friends of my friend’s friends) number in the millions- as large as some countries – all of whom are just two introductions away from me.

Theoretically, my network on LinkedIn contains almost anything I would like to know, from where to get a good latte in Budapest to what are the latest developments in cancer research.  The concept predates the internet, as people who want to search for information often intend to “ask around,” but online it has been expanded to an astounding degree.  Everything we want to know is at our fingertips – if we can find it.

Yet, with so much information so close, how do we navigate and find what we need in our networks when we need it??  How can we benefit from information contained in our own private information treasure trove? As Duncan Watts wrote, “Searchability is, therefore, a generic property of social networks.”

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