Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feature suggestion: Do we need a new search engine? Certainly not, but Facebook may offer a new definition of search

Bing, Yahoo and Google are already offering a complete search experience and there is probably no need of having a new search engine. Certainly, we already have a fast growing set of new engines for emerging markets such as Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, but that's because they offer specific expertise in those markets (even if I would be not surprised of seeing them coming more and more in western countries).

Anyway, there is something new and Facebook has a unique position for offering a new set of search services, which could be integrated within the Facebook's popular notification system. Let's start from some examples:

I search for new software development positions in london. Facebook has all the public postings made by their social users. The data is there but the ranking is very poor. Plus this type of search is buried and you need to click 3 different links for accessing it.

I am looking for a musical in London, first result is totally irrelevant even if they have the location of the people posting, a full access to their internal social graph, a full access to my position in the graph, the number of like within facebook and in any external web site embedding the like button, many forms of temporal information, the links you shared, the title and the caption you changed, user importance, how many time I've interacted with my friends, any picture I have changed from automatic crawling,  and a lot more (wow, not so bad). Many of those information are not necessarily available to other search engines

Let's see other examples

Let's suppose we want to listen some music

Or get some news

I assume that you understood that the data is there, but a quality ranking is not.  You may say that this is nothing new because we already had some interest in the past for real time search, and Bing is already including social likes information.

True. Anyway, Facebook as already a quite popular Notification system -- you know that white number on a red background -- which is updated anytime something new is happening in your social graph. So why not allowing myself to register for a new (and relevant please!) update for a query term that I've searched before? That would be a useful feature to have and a new definition of search where results are pushed to me instead of searching them again and again. Yes, I know I am lazy and I like when software is making something on my behalf because I save time for something else.

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