Been playing with two new-ish products today: Google Notebook and yahoo MyWeb2.0.
Let’s tackle the latter first. This is Yahoo!’s way of integrating their hipster properties del.icio.us and flickr into the tragically 1999 Yahoo brand. It’s really just another service that helps you personalize your searches, by looking at your imported bookmarks (more on that in a second) or by looking at your network.
Say I search for “fashion”. The first result is within my imported delicious bookmarks (which I’m assuming don’t update automatically, by the way- will I have to save the xml file and reupload it every day?), the second is within my contacts, and the third is “everyone”. So this “Web2.0” is really just “search your contacts bookmarks”, rather than a real social search service.
I’m assuming there’s some sort of groovy search-within-your-network feature, but since my network consists of Erik Benson and nobody else, that’s not very exciting for me. And neither Erik nor I are really using this service very much. So right now Yahoo! is basically finding contacts for me, I guess, which seems to consist of one girl, Caterina. She has good taste in bookmarks and alll, but how did Yahoo! match us up? There’s not much explanation.
I think it’s really a rebrand of del.icio.us. I imported my 580+ del.icio.us bookmarks — which had to be done manually, btw- i had to open the delicious/api/posts/all file, save it as xml, and then import it. Since Yahoo! owns del.icio.us, you’d think it would have been easier than that. You’d think. But this isn’t for power users, it’s for regular Yahoo! users. In other words, I will not be using it. Like Yahoo! 360, it attempts to take fairly sophisticated pieces of web technology and wrap them in a mommy-daddy interface. Maybe good for the target market, but I’m not it.
Second, Google Notebook. This is a combination web page-Firefox extension that works a lot like Performancing. You click an icon in the browser status bar to launch an applet that lets you clip-n-save web content, which you can also be annotated, aggregated, etc. in either the browser or the web interface.
The clipping and annotating might be vaguely useful. I am, after all, a researcher (my current job title is “Social Software Researcher”) so I spend a ton of time aggregating content from various websites, comparing and contrasting different ways of doing things, and so on. It will be nice to be able to collect and organize web data without using del.icio.us or Word.
Notebooks can also be made public, which I’m assuming would work similarly to Squidoo’s lens feature, except probably not as well, since that’s all Squidoo does and this project is probably like 3 people on their 20% time. You can search all public notebooks for keywords, which basically works similarly to a technorati search, except not as well, since there aren’t very many public notebooks. I searched for “gadget” in “all public notebooks” and it brought up Sagaro’s notebook, which consisted of a lot of blog postings and some random notes. Not many that had to do with gadgets. My search for recipes was more useful.
What both of these services has in common is the idea that socially situated search is someday going to be something really useful. In theory, this might be true: I’d be more likely to find a great academic article through a search targeted towards other professors and students in my field. And if I was looking for something that pertained to my friends, it would make more sense to work within a search network of my friends. But if I’m looking for something for work, school, or just a random query, there’s no reason why my friends would be better at finding it than anyone else.
Plus, I’m not going to import my entire online social network into ANOTHER site. I don’t have a single social network, anyway. I have my LJ friends (250), my MySpace friends (350), my Gmail contacts (probably less than 100), my Flickr contacts (about 50), and while there are some overlaps, the most overlap is OBVIOUSLY among the heaviest internet users, NOT the people I’m closest to. For example, no matter what social networking site I sign up for, (LinkedIn, TagWorld, Vox, Consummating, whatever) I find Erik Benson and Josh Santangelo. Unsurprisingly, all three of us are ultra power users who work in the industry. While we are friends, and I’d connect to them anyway, you’d think from the amount of affiliations the three of us share that we were BFFs.
So I don’t really see how social search can work correctly until it solves the “social” problem. Recently, I signed up for TagWorld and was pleased to find that it can go through your gmail contacts and match them up against already-existing users. If it could do that for MySpace as well, it would really be useful.
Anyway, I’m digressing.