It was only a matter of time before Facebook began using its huge database of users and user opinions to develop a social search engine.
Say, for instance, you are fascinated by dinosaurs. (Maybe you are 12-years-old or a palaeontologist). There are a lot of other Facebook users who are also interested in dinosaurs and there is a good chance that this group would know about, say, the best dinosaur museum in another country. Furthermore, they would know it is better than the second-best (but bigger and more famous) dinosaur museum in that country.
Facebook's new graph search feature, which was announced yesterday, will dig up these sort of things that friends can tell you but that a heartless and robotic Google search could never reveal. You know, kind of like the way Yahoo was two decades ago.
We all know that our friendly wine expert can probably recommend some of the best 2009 Bordeaux wines available locally, but ask Google and you get nothing.
Google saw this coming when some mention of social search floated around in the media. Google immediately took action and developed Google+ with hopes that it too can eventually use the power of the social network to augment search.
I've always wondered if Facebook was actually going to follow up on the idea and now the answer seems to be yes. But will it be worth a crap?
For a while, it will get attention and be kind of fun, but even at the press conference you could see how fast the feature will deteriorate into another new way to try and get a date. The searches quickly become: "What tagged nearby hottie has said nice things about me?"
If you are on Facebook and not interested in having an affair or dating the nearby hottie, then you probably won't be using this search. Well, except maybe for the wine tip.
The company does promote another type of search, which I will rename the “pathetic soul search.” And the pathetic soul is the user. Examples of this search were outlined at the press event and it will go something like this: "What TV shows do my friends love?"
In other words, the pathetic soul is looking for something to watch on TV and will happily go along with groupthink. Heaven forbid he or she puts some effort into the decision. My advice: Forget about TV altogether and go read a book. Although the pathetic soul would ask the graph what book to read, too.
Social media is probably the reason why every shut-in has read Fifty Shades of Grey and thought it was great.
This whole thing looks interesting and I'm sure Google is not pleased. But we are headed down the dangerous road to fascism when users are demanding to be followers. "I do not want to think for myself ever again!"
And, yes, I found yesterday’s entire presentation to be sickening.
I mean, just look at the inspirational posters that were hanging on the walls. Inspirational posters tell you more about the person relying on the poster for inspiration than anything else. You do not need to read books about having a positive attitude if you already have a positive attitude. A few of the gems hanging on the wall read: "Move fast and break things," "Fail harder," and "Done is better than perfect." Apparently, these reflect the company's outlook.
While these are the kind of cornball clichés you might expect, bigger signs remind employees that "Fortune favours the bold" and asked "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
The last one was the kicker for me. This is a disturbed company. I found this signage to be creepy and foreboding. You can analyse the psychology of this in your own time. At any rate, scrutiny of graph search will come from every corner, that much is clear.