Them, not that or there: Bing and the social search engine
Let’s speak cryptically, because the mood today calls for it: the search engine as self has always been a middle man (or woman), pointing us toward wikipedia, yelp, or wherever else we want to go online but don’t actually know it yet.
But what if instead of sending us out there, it told us who knew what — who, among my friends and acquaintances, can give me suggestions on where the best hikes are in upstate New York, and help me avoid those old looking state park sites that don’t tell me anything? Well, Bing to the rescue.
via Fast Company:
“We’re literally no longer indexing text,” [Bing director Stefan] Weitz says. “We’re trying to associate data that exists on the web in all forms with the physical object that spawned it in the first place.”
That means that when searching for upstate hiking trails, you’ll be shown who among your friends may have been somewhere up there, during a Summer trip five years ago that they never mentioned but maybe, conveniently, made into a photo album on Facebook that you never saw.
But, like most new ideas, there are hurdles.
Bing isn’t taking all user-generated content into consideration when it makes its people-relevance decisions. That’s because it would take an extraordinary amount of computing power to analyze all the free text people generate and determine its meaning (for example, if you write about “turkey,” are you talking about the bird or the country?).
So instead, Bing is simply looking at what your friends Like, share, or search for to assess their expertise on certain topics. But those proxies might not be sufficient to actually get you to the right people. “Just because there’s someone in my social graph who Likes Hawaii doesn’t mean they’re the best person to recommend a hotel on Kauai,” Rebecca Lieb of the Altimeter Group tells Fast Company.
FJP: One oversight on Bing’s part may be the fact that I don’t want to ask that one guy I haven’t seen in three years what the Adirondacks are like. But it’s still a good idea.