With Google Social Search enabled, searchers are more likely to find what friends and associates have to say about things.
As promised at the Web 2.0 Summit last week, Google has introduced a new Google Labs experiement called Google Social Search, a way to find online content authored by friends and personal contacts using a Google search.
To try it out, visit Google Labs and click the designated button to join the Social Search experiment.
Google Social Search requires you to be signed in to your Google Account. It integrates blog posts and other online information authored by friends and associates into Google search results.
Google looks for people in your Gmail or Google Talk contacts lists, Google Reader articles, people linked to through your Google Profile -- from sites like Twitter and FriendFeed -- and people listed in Google Contacts. Then it includes posts and commentary written by these people, when appropriate and relevant, in your Google searches.
In a blog post explaining the new Social Search exeriment, Google technical lead Maureen Heymans and Google product manager Murali Viswanathan emphasize that this isn't some new form of privacy invasion. "All the information that appears as part of Google Social Search is published publicly on the Web -- you can find it without Social Search if you really want to," they said. "What we've done is surface that content together in one single place to make your results more relevant."
Google Social Search also provides a way to see only search results from one's social circle.
At the Web 2.0 Summit, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, "There is a very fundamental shift going on from the information Web to the social Web." It's a shift that Google has been participating in for several years, though perhaps not as effectively as the company might wish.
Google's commitment to social computing became evident in 2007, as Facebook and other social sites became popular.
Google has acquired companies with a social focus, like micro-blogging company Jaiku, video company Omniso, and mobile company Dodgeball. It has dabbled in social advertising through a deal with Italy's Dada.net. It has integrated social sharing features into services like Google Docs, Google Reader, and Google Books. It released the OpenSocial API and Social Graph API for integrating social network features with Web sites. It has released social gadgets for its iGoogle home page.
Google launched Orkut, its own social network, in 2004, but the site, despite being quite popular in Brazil, has been overshadowed by Facebook and MySpace in the U.S.
In a separate but related announcement last week, Google said that it had reached a deal with Twitter to index tweets and make them available in searches to improve the availability of real-time information.
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