An article appeared in Popular Mechanics in April last year that began with the words “Search is dead”. The argument was that the huge escalation in social networks would eventually make algorithm based search engines redundant. This is a pretty bold claim when Google has become arguably the world’s most powerful brand. The core of the argument is that as social networking grows web users will find what they want by using their social network rather than search because of trust. Indeed people in general will know the answer that you want better than a mathematical equation. This has begun to happen with Twitter. Within days of starting to use the service I saw a request from Jemima Kiss, technology writer for The Guardian for information about about iTunes and a request from social media guru Shel Israel for information on business applications on Twitter. Shel got what he wanted in just 10 minutes, admittedly quite a bit slower than Google but qualified by trusted human intelligence:
“shelisrael: Thanks everyone. I just got 10 good Twitter biz apps in 10 minutes. Keep them coming when you find them, please.”
Online communities are often built or reinforced around the notion of shared interests. We create an enormous amount of data when we participate in social networks and this information finds people through the various filters people set up within their social networks. Twitter is instant, Google has to index a page before it can search for it. We may be witnessing the beginning of the erosion of Google’s dominance in search.
This article is adapted from a more in depth piece in the book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ available now from Amazon.